Jordan Larmour’s unpredictability sets him apart

Leinster back likened to All Black Damian McKenzie by senior coach Stuart Lancaster

Jordan Larmour: “The things in my game that need work, I want to try and bring them up and be more of a rounded player.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Jordan Larmour: “The things in my game that need work, I want to try and bring them up and be more of a rounded player.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

As namechecks go being likened in style on a rugby pitch to New Zealand’s will-o’-the-wisp Damian McKenzie is certainly not a hardship especially when the person offering the comparison is Stuart Lancaster.

Leinster’s senior coach is not given to hyperbole but when asked about the counter-attacking edge Jordan Larmour brings to the fullback position at the province, Lancaster explained: “Whether he is in the 15 shirt or any shirt really, he reminds me of the threat that Damian McKenzie brings for the All Blacks.

“You don’t know what he is going to do and when he is going to do it and that unpredictability sets Jordan apart from other players I have coached recently. What you’ll find is, at 15 he is a really good option, because if you kick to him then something is liable to happen. But he didn’t just run everything back [against the Scarlets], he offered good intelligent kicking behind the front line.”

“Speaking to James Lowe, who played with Damian McKenzie, I think he [Lowe] sparks off that type of player. I think the combination works well for us. When you have Rob Kearney wanting some game time soon, Jordan could easily slide onto the wing and what we don’t want to do is to pigeonhole him as that guy who has got to stay on the wing all the time.

“He just has to get that balance right when he is on the wing of being on the edge to score tries, but equally get the ball in his hands as well.”

The former St Andrews College schoolboy is no longer an unknown entity for opposing teams thanks to some outstanding performances and tries last season and the challenge for the 21-year-old Irish international is to maintain that progression.

Lancaster believes the player possesses the courage to retain the sense of adventure in the way he plays and the aptitude to refine his development.

“People give you more attention and sometimes they plateau a bit, but the best ones kick on again.”

Larmour previously unaware of the comparison with McKenzie admitted that he’d “take that” and while he had huge admiration for the 23-year-old All Black it is a player closer to home that he studies intently.

“Earlsy [Keith Earls]. I like to watch him a lot and see how he goes about his business. He’s an unbelievable player. It’s about getting better and better and anything that will help that, you want to incorporate into your game somehow.”

Rounded player

Another figure facilitating his development is Leinster’s new backs’ coach Felipe Contepomi.

Larmour said: “I remember watching him growing up and it’s pretty cool to be working with him now. He’s pretty creative with some of the moves and set-piece stuff we have, the starter plays; they’re good fun and if they come off he’ll be pretty happy. I’m also sitting down and chatting to him one-on-one, going through my weaknesses, where I’m strong and work-ons.

“We do a lot of high-ball work with this big backpack kind of thing and for attacking stuff; we have drills that put us under pressure. We play a little competition with two teams as well, just to get one up on each other. Those kinds of things help.”

This time last year he made a try-scoring debut against the Dragons and he would like a repeat against the Welsh club, who coincidentally visit the RDS on Saturday.

Another priority is to maintain the rate of improvement as a player.

“It was special getting my first cap. Growing up, all I wanted to do was play for Leinster. The things in my game that need work, I want to try and bring them up and be more of a rounded player, a better one overall.

“I’m doing a lot of work on my high ball, with my kicking, my defending; it’s kind of just trying to bring those areas up. Those are the main targets I have, just to grow as a player and to try to talk more, be more dominant. I just want to be more rounded and be a better player overall.”

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