Jordan Larmour realises field has become more crowded in his absence
Leinster player on the mental challenge that also comes with returning to the international game
Ireland’s Jordan Larmour tries to evade a tackle from Italy’s Paolo Garbisi during the Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Fabio Frustaci/EPA
Jordan Larmour holds a kind of breezy, open minded view of exactly where he fits into the 2021 version of the Irish team. After dislocating his shoulder last year his understanding of returning to where he left off is that there is more to a comeback than mending fibres and tendons.
While he was away, the arrival of Hugo Keenan to comfortably fill fullback has ensured his return has been to a more crowded domain than the one he left. Larmour’s most recent outings have been on the wing. For now that suits fine.
“Listen, for me there’s a bit of difference between 15 and the wing. But I love playing both positions,” he says. “I’ve obviously played the last few games on the wing. I don’t think about it too much.”
The initial prognosis back in mid-October was that he would be out of action for up to 16 weeks, his return against Ulster in the first week of January coming almost a month earlier than expected. Since then, progress has been steady, his late match-winning try against Munster the first glimpse of the balance and footwork that has routinely brightened the Leinster and Irish attack.
But a glimpse is not enough to sustain him through the rest of the Six Nations, the resumption of Europe and the Pro 14 final. Larmour knows it. He also knows with each game he has to grab the moments when they come because that is what he is primarily selected to do.
“I was training with Leinster, two weeks full training before I played that first Ulster game,” he says. “So, you know you are always going to come in a little bit rusty if you haven’t played in 12 weeks.
“To get that match fitness back, thinking at that speed, playing at that speed, just getting back to backing yourself, trusting your instincts and trying to get your skill level back . . . you are under so much pressure and you’ve got to work at quicker speeds and think quicker.
“It does take a little bit of time. I’ve had four, five games under my belt now so I’m feeling like I’m getting there. I don’t think I’m too far off. Game time is the biggest helper in that, the biggest factor.”
Larmour started his first international match back against Wales from the bench and played 18 minutes. He came on again against France with a shorter 12-minute run and started against Italy on the right wing, playing for 40 minutes for a total of 70 minutes over the three games.
With Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway, James Lowe and Keith Earls all included in Andy Farrell’s recent squad, sharp elbows are needed. But Larmour knows the points of difference he has in his locker. There is a sense everyone does.
“I think the best players, they perform when it matters most,” he says. “The highest levels, the biggest games they show up. Sometimes it can be one or two big moments but having that consistency throughout your game, turning up each week.
“It can also be one moment of madness, I guess. That gets people talking and stuff. But showing up in big games and being consistent is a big factor.”
Against Scotland’s residency-qualified winger, Duhan van der Merwe, this weekend could provide an early challenge to that.