Jordan Larmour comes in from the cold with Ireland after showing glimpses of his best at Leinster

webnexttech | Jordan Larmour comes in from the cold with Ireland after showing glimpses of his best at Leinster

At 4.20pm on Saturday a message was sent out by the IRFU communications department that Irish fullback Hugo Keenan had an issue with his hip and Jordan Larmour, who had not been named on the bench by Andy Farrell, would be starting in the final match of this year’s Six Nations against Scotland. The backs in Farrell’s 5-3 split bench remained the same in Conor Murray, Harry Byrne and Garry Ringrose, with Larmour coming in as a straight replacement for Keenan. It was a big moment for the Leinster player, who had not started for Ireland since the summer of 2021, when he was selected on the right wing against Japan. Larmour missed last year’s international season and a chance to play in the World Cup in France before coming on against Italy in this year’s championship for a 17-minute run. The last time he started a match for Ireland at fullback was four years ago in the Six Nations against England. In that 2019-20 season, he started six times at 15. In that context Larmour would have hoped to find some space against Scotland and run the ball. His strongest asset is an ability to stand players in defence and cause chaos with his staccato, elusive brand of movement. However, the nature of the game against Scotland was such that Ireland’s line breaks throughout the match were limited to just four. That’s not a great canvas for a player like Larmour. Given the way the game unfolded, the Irish fullback might have had a frustrating time, although he backed himself after just three minutes with a lateral run deep in Ireland’s half before Huw Jones got hands on his shirt. For many of the contested high balls in the opening phase of the match it was James Lowe and Jack Crowley rising. Larmour’s first came in the 20th minute and again he took off up the middle making around 10 metres before disappearing into the wall of blue bodies. For most of the first half, Larmour was tackling, hitting rucks or being the link in a passing sequence. Not one real opportunity presented itself in the opening 40 minutes that allowed him run into space or get into a position where there wasn’t a slew of Scotland players ready to meet him. On 33 minutes he took a high catch, ran to the right before straightening up and again was smothered in the tackle in what was a low-fizz first half for Ireland. Ireland came out much more perky after the break and Larmour was again taking an uncontested high ball and running from deep finding only a tackle to meet him. A missed catch on 47 minutes from scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park close to Scotland’s try-line should have been caught but it was quickly followed by the Irish fullback pressing Duhan van der Merwe hard inside the Scotland 22 after Crowley threaded a kick through the Scottish line. It was again Larmour who, under pressure, quickly slung a ball wide right to Calvin Nash several minutes later. Nash probably should have straightened his running line earlier and had he done so might have had a try. But he jinked once too often and Scotland had him on the ground inches from the line in what was one of Ireland’s best chances up to that point on 53 minutes. Shortly after that Andy Farrell began to pour on replacements. With Harry Byrne coming in to outhalf, Crowley dropped back to fullback and Larmour, who had a few more involvements, made way on 67 minutes. In all, it was a kind of game that didn’t suit his skill set and where it was less difficult to be industrious than creative. When he plays the position, Keenan has found ways of running tight on the shoulders of players and feeding off well-timed runs. But it was a welcome sight to see the 26-year-old Larmour back playing, healthy and in a winning green shirt with a championship medal around his neck. It has come on the back of strong performances with Leinster, where the Larmour of old has been visible. His next prize ought to be a place in Ireland’s summer tour to face world champions South Africa.

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