Belfast Telegraph

Larmour eager to build on remarkable maiden campaign

 

By Cian Tracey

With success comes heightened expectation.

And when someone like Jordan Larmour supplements that by displaying a rare ability to accelerate through a list of personal goals in such a sparkling manner, it means that the demands on his young shoulders are constantly increasing.

After all, this is a 21-year-old who began last season with the main aim of breaking into Leinster's A team. Finishing it as a Grand Slam champion told its own story about just how far he managed to go instead.

At a time when people are setting individual goals for the year ahead, Larmour's sole focus is ensuring that 2019 is even better than 2018.

That task is easier said than done but, then again, given what lies ahead, there is plenty to target for the electric youngster.

When the idea that he may have already achieved his most successful season in what was his first as a professional is put to him, Larmour shrugs it off with an air of self-confidence that is mirrored by the manner in how he so joyously plays the game.

"I'm aware of that but I haven't thought about it because in my mind I just want to win," he said. "I just want to go out and win trophies and be involved in big games. Last year was a pretty special year, but hopefully this one can be even better.

"I haven't had the chance to reflect, but just thinking about it, it was a pretty special year.

"It seems so long ago now, playing Australia, New Zealand, England... but to be involved in those games was unbelievable."

Larmour's confidence is offset by a deep self-awareness that he is far from the finished product.

The last year he has spent in and around the Ireland squad has meant that the workload has doubled, which in turn has meant that Larmour is now watching more rugby than he has ever done before.

"I suppose I want to keep growing as a player and getting better, honing in on some skills and just kind of be a student of the game," he explained. "I've started watching a lot more rugby, just trying to learn more and see why teams play a certain way.

"And then as a collective, as a team, our goals haven't changed, to get better and to win trophies.

"I think in both Leinster and Ireland, we are encouraged to watch more rugby to see why teams are playing the way they are. I think Joe (Schmidt) has been a big factor in that and so has Stuart (Lancaster).

"If you want to grow as a player, you need to grow your knowledge. I'm watching more rugby, trying to see the way teams use a certain defensive system or their shape in attack.

"During the week, we will have videos that the coaches will show us - how teams are playing, how we are going to play.

"I find that if I go and have a look myself, I'm kind of a step ahead and when they show us the videos, I already know why they are going to play this way and what we're going to do - what plays we are going to play to try and beat them.

"I need to improve every part of my game. Before and after training I am practicing a whole array of skills, trying to hone in and get them better.

"I need to work on parts of my game, but if I was to pick out a few I would say my kicking, my high ball catching - those are two areas I can bring up. I do think they have got better but I can improve."

Larmour doesn't shirk the fact that the coming 12 months are the biggest of his fledging career and, even though he has plenty of big days beyond that, he knows that time is precious.

Seven of the former St Andrew's student's nine international caps have come from the bench, but with the Six Nations as well as the World Cup looming large, it is not in Larmour's nature to settle as an impact player off the bench.

"Everyone just wants to start - there isn't one rugby player in the world who doesn't want to start a game," he insisted. "You want to be involved in the Ireland and Leinster teams. I still have a good bit to learn."

Chief among Larmour's more immediate concerns, however, is helping Leinster get back to winning ways against Ulster on Saturday, before next weekend's crunch clash against Toulouse.

A lot has been made of the manner of Leinster's indisciplined defeat to Munster, but Larmour believes that even though they came up against some familiar faces, the "niggle" on show is good for the game, if you channel it in the right way.

"It's always enemies on the pitch and friends off it," he added. "It was an extremely tough game. We knew going down, the crowd, the noise, it's unbelievable down there. The environment is pretty hostile, fans shouting abuse at you.

"I just think both teams were so up for the game, we're always up for the game but this one especially. As well, when you're playing against players you're competing with in Ireland camp, you want to try to get one up on them, play better than them. That brings out the best in you.

"With that and the crowd, it played into the game, and there was a bit of niggle - it's not the worst thing to have in a game, it's just about trying to channel that emotion."

Jordan Larmour was speaking at the announcement of a multi-year partnership with Energia, official energy partner of Leinster Rugby.

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