Larmour suddenly becomes a contender for Six Nations squad
Leinster player boasts excellent speed but also possesses rare trait: sharp rugby brain
Leinster’s Jordan Larmour would “step you in a phone box”, according to team-mate Scott Fardy. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
What are your strengths? “Speed and footwork.”
(Jordan Larmour recent interview in Rugby World)
Clearly born to run, Larmour showed at the RDS on Saturday that he also possesses that rare, rapidly processing rugby brain. See the cleverly delayed pass to give Barry Daly an extra centimetre to slip past from Charles Piutau. See him recognising the space and chipping into it or raking right footers when asked to perform rudimentary fullback tasks like territorial gain.
See his brilliantly created and finished, yet disallowed, try on 43 minutes (only because Jamison Gibson-Park was half a stride ahead of his perfectly weighted grubber).
“He’d step you in a phone box, he’s got some great feet and really good wheels, he’s right up there,” with any young talent Scott Fardy has seen on his travels throughout the southern hemisphere.
Fardy was asked to compare Larmour to someone, anyone. James O’Connor perhaps?
“A little bit different than James. Similar in ways, they’ve obviously both got really good feet. He might have more top-end speed . . .”
O’Connor had magnificent early years, playing Super Rugby at 17, Test rugby at 18, before a succession of substance abuse and disciplinary issues saw his international innings stall age 23. His 44th and last Wallaby cap came in 2013. Now he’s currently playing for Sale.
“He’s a very level-headed kid,” Fardy added of Larmour. “As much as we tease him this won’t go to his head too much. We are looking forward to him having a long future.”
What suddenly makes Larmour a contender for Ireland selection come the Six Nations became apparent in the build-up to his disallowed try. He’s lethal off turnover ball. Mattie Rea fumbles possession just over the Ulster 10 metre line. Andrew Porter, Jack Conan and Josh Murphy pounce so Jordi Murphy plays scrumhalf to Fardy’s pivot before Robbie Henshaw puts some pace on the counter-attack.
Next, Ross Byrne floats the ball in front of Larmour. The 20-year-old may as well have been in a phone box (not that he ever will be); Jacob Stockdale closing from his right, Andrew Trimble directly in front, inviting the touchline, the kick is kinesthetic and flawless. Stockdale wraps him but has to quickly release as he hares after the ball. Gibson-Park gathers, draws Piutau and flicks a pass over his shoulder for Larmour who dives over and leaps up without so much as a smile.
The Munster try was no fluke, it’s possible every time he attacks, in space or not.
Maybe they will notice the recent struggles of Garry Ringrose – a fresh ankle injury after double shoulder surgery – and Stockdale, who missed three blatant tackles leading to three tries at the RDS, because Larmour’s rise towards superstardom is comparable and so equally perilous.
“Jacob [Stockdale], we haven’t seen it the last couple [of games] that he’s been there but he was very similar for us over a period of a year,” remarked Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss. “But this Larmour boy is certainly dangerous, whether he’s got acres of space to work with or very small spaces to work with. He just challenges your defensive shoulder.
“He’s in a special place at the moment and he deserves every accolade that’s coming his way. He’s an exceptional rugby player.”
Larmour appeared to tweak a hamstring finishing off Leinster’s fifth try but despite still he ran down Tommy Bowe; youthful vigour catching the old winger with a try-saving tackle that appears to have returned Bowe to the long-term wounded list.
Remember Bowe being capped at 20 in 2004, remember the Grand Slam glory try in Cardiff. A soon to be out of contract winger with 33 tries over 74 Test matches, yet turning 34 this February, Bowe’s body refuses to stay healthy.
Maybe Cullen and Schmidt will see longer-term value or maybe they cannot look past the fact that Larmour’s time to run is now.