Jordan Larmour provides a brief glimpse of his rare talent
Debutant almost conjures a memorable late try from nothing in his first senior outing
Ireland’s Jordan Larmour on the attack against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Jordan Larmour was growing frustrated. The dream of playing for Ireland was happening but the ball was anywhere and everywhere but in his hands.
Robbie Henshaw’s shoulder injury – which prompted the Irish medics to give him an inhaler given to trauma patients to reduce pain – could have seen Larmour make his Ireland debut at centre. Instead, Keith Earls returned to an old haunt as the 20-year-old stood far too patiently on the right wing.
Larmour’s first possession had four Italians in swarming proximity. Arriving after 44 minutes, the game was drifting further and further away from him. There was a missed tackle, in open country, on Italy fullback Matteo Minozzi on 65 minutes that led to Edoardo Gori’s try. Forgivable but glaring. He needed another memory.
On 79 minutes he showed a glimpse into his personality. A rare desire to do whatever it takes. The game was all but cooked yet the other Irish replacements were racking up the touches against jaded Italians. Andrew Porter made another strong carry but slow ball came back so Joey Carbery switched direction, stalled, and danced up the middle. Seán Cronin rumbled up the guts as well.
“I was dying to get on the ball so came in field for that last play and got my hands on it,” said Larmour.
This was the moment. Porter went to scrumhalf with Larmour at outhalf. There was no space to attack so Larmour put a prop, poor Andrea Lovotti, on his back side with a ridiculous two-step as Gori was made grasp at thin air.
Larmour made them disappear then destroyed Leonardo Ghiraldini for pace. A sensational try on debut was denied by Tommaso Allan and Tommaso Benevenuti hauling him to ground 10 metres out.
“I thought I was in,” he laughed, “he just caught me. Would have been nice.”
The sound of pure excitement hummed about Lansdowne Road. Jacob Stockdale had claimed two tries – bringing his test tally to six in six caps – while in the next instant Keith Earls tracked down Mattia Bellini but leaving the ground people had the warm glow of what will come next from one young man.
Larmour is among us now.
“Delighted to get my first cap,” he calmly said afterwards. “Even more special with my family and friends out there in the crowd. Even better to get the win...”
No wide-eyed wonderment, not a hint of arrogance.
“Wasn’t that nervous. When I was about to go on I got a bit nervous but it was a special feeling. It’s been a dream of mine to play for Ireland so hopefully I get a few more opportunities to do it.”
That will happen but what to do with him next?
The back three – Rob Kearney, Earls and Stockdale – seem certain to be selected for the Wales game while Garry Ringrose could force his way into the match day squad. If Ringrose does not play against Scarlets this weekend – which Joe Schmidt said is unlikely – Chris Farrell is favourite to replace Henshaw at outside centre. That could prompt Schmidt to name Ringrose at 23.
Leinster may have access to Larmour this week. If not, it indicates he will feature on the bench for Wales.
Interestingly, centre or wing and not fullback are his preferred positions.
“I’ve played a few times in the centre for Leinster but Earlsey, he’s class, so he could cover that.”
Kearney will be pleased to hear him add: “The main two are probably wing and centre. I just prepared all week for those two positions. When I got the opportunity I just wanted to make a statement.”
Larmour doesn’t seek mollycoddling for being young or special treatment for being gifted but he accepts a certain baseline has been set.
“I have pretty high standards for myself. Every time I go out on the pitch I try to do my best, be that a line break or making good decisions in defence. I would put a lot of pressure on myself to perform to what I did in the past.”