Belfast Telegraph

Picture perfect year has blown me away: Larmour

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The rugby world is at Jordan Larmour's dancing feet, yet there does not seem to be much of a burden weighing on his young shoulders.

He has always wanted to be a professional rugby player, and he possesses the kind of talent others dream of, so why would he have any nagging doubts as he prepares to play a second senior final in two weeks this Saturday, two months after playing his part in a historic Grand Slam?

His highlights reel is already impressive, but he is confident there is much more to come.

Next month he will celebrate his 21st birthday and he will most likely do so while travelling from Brisbane to Melbourne having featured in Ireland's first Test in Australia.

The hard Southern Hemisphere track should suit his talents and he will hope to make his first Ireland start over the course of the three weeks Down Under.

At the start of the season, he wrote down his goal to cement himself in the British and Irish Cup team, while hoping for a Leinster debut during the international windows.

A few sensational scores in the inter-provincial games did for that; he played against Italy, Scotland and England in the Six Nations campaign and started the Champions Cup win over Racing 92 in Bilbao.

Last weekend, he doubled up as part of the team that beat Munster at the RDS Arena and he is expected to keep his place for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 final against Scarlets.

Not a bad breakthrough season.

"It's been a good season so far; I've won the Grand Slam and the Champions Cup," he said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

"So it would be nice to send off Isa (Nacewa) and a few of the lads on a high and a piece of silver under the belt. I'm just loving every part of it so far so let's just keep it going.

"If you had told me that at the beginning of the season I wouldn't have believed you. I was in the Academy trying to do the best I could there, playing for St Mary's at the time, so if you had said I'd be involved in the Champions Cup team or the Grand Slam-winning team I wouldn't have believed you."

What has surprised Larmour most is just how normal playing rugby at the highest level has been.

"I thought it would be a lot different, but it's just like another rugby team," he said.

"It's a group of lads, everyone just playing the game. Everyone just loving playing it as well.

"The competition for places is so high in here. If you have a bad training session it hangs over you. You go in and have a video session and see where you can do better. Every day you come in you are trying to get better and improve.

"When you go from the sub-Academy into the Academy and into the senior squad, they are all stepping stones which helps you get more prepared.

"When you are playing All-Ireland League rugby you are playing bigger men, so you get a little bit of a taste, but there is always going to be that little bit of a step up when you are playing professional rugby.

"I do definitely think from the schools to the sub-Academy, Academy to the senior team they will help you. I know Leinster do a lot of work with the schools so that definitely pays off."

Along the way, Larmour has always had the confidence in his own ability.

After the last meeting with Scarlets, Johnny Sexton's comments on Larmour's boundless enthusiasm for the ball went viral.

But, on the pitch, the out-half was less forgiving when the 20-year-old demanded the pass before attempting to beat six defenders.

Twenty metres away, his more illustrious team-mate was left looking at the gaping space in front of him wondering what he had missed. Simply, Larmour reckoned he could score.

"You are always going to listen to the senior lads on the team and the coaches," he explained of his thinking.

"But if there is a gap and you see one, you will always back yourself. And they'll tell you that as well.

"It's not always plain sailing. If you see something that they might not, you have licence to do it. On that occasion, it was probably a very bad idea. I probably won't do it again.

"There is a balance between backing yourself and knowing when to say no. It is probably in the bigger game where it counts more. That's why I talk about going back to keep learning. I will try to keep learning from them (senior players) and listening to the coaches."

A year ago, he was out injured and attended a barbecue with a couple of Academy team-mates before rocking up to the RDS for the semi-final against Scarlets.

Now he is front and centre and ready to be part of the first Leinster team to win a European/PRO14 double.

"I haven't had a chance to just think about how the season has gone so far because it has been so busy," he said.

"It's next game after next game. I like it that way. It is really exciting times for Leinster and Irish rugby.

"Another piece of silverware in the bag would be really nice."

It's quite a collection he's amassed in the past few months but he's showing no sign of slowing down.

• Gloucester have confirmed the signing of Munster second row Gerbrandt Grobler for next season.

The South African, who served a two-year suspension for the use of steroids before coming to Europe, spent a controversial year at Thomond Park in which he made 11 appearances for the senior team.

At Kingsholm he will link up with head coach Johan Ackermann, who himself served a ban for the use of performance enhancing drugs during his playing career.

Grobler was only ever expected to remain at the Irish province for one season as he bridged the gap between departing lock Donnacha Ryan and incoming Scarlets tyro Tadhg Beirne.

Meanwhile, Jack O'Donoghue will this week meet a specialist to discover how serious the knee injury he suffered in Saturday's PRO14 semi-final loss to Leinster is. The flanker is expected to be ruled out of Ireland's summer tour.

Second row Jean Kleyn will have scheduled surgery on his ankle, while hooker Rhys Marshall will have an operation on his shoulder.

Munster believe JJ Hanrahan's hip problem is not serious.

Belfast Telegraph

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