2018 Six Nations: Jordan Larmour is tipped to be new star of Irish rugby

Larmour and Jacob Stockdale are two of the most exciting young stars in Irish rugby
Larmour and Jacob Stockdale are two of the most exciting young stars in Irish rugby

Rob Kearney gave a slight shrug of his shoulders in response to a question he must have known was coming.

"I just think he's a flat-out winger," deadpanned the full-back as laughter erupted around the room and he broke into a smile before adding: "if only!"

Jordan Larmour was the only uncapped player in Ireland's Six Nations squad but that will change on Saturday after he was named on the bench for the match against Italy in Dublin.

Ask any Irish back and they will say how eager they are to see Larmour make his debut - just not in their position.

"I think he's more of a threat out wide," smiled centre Robbie Henshaw when he was asked about his Leinster team-mate.

"I don't think he'll be crashing up the centre too much, I think he's better with ball in hand out wide but still, if he moves in there, I'll be a little bit worried, yeah."

The latest starlet of Irish rugby has created a real buzz during his rookie season for Leinster, who picked Larmour at full-back ahead of Kearney for their Pool Three win over Glasgow Warriors in the Champions Cup and named him on the wing for victory against Montpellier the following week.

Jordan Larmour
Larmour has made a big impression in his first season with Leinster

The 20-year-old only made his senior debut for the province in September - scoring a try in the win over Dragons - but such has been his impact that Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has been persuaded to offer him his first cap against Italy this week.

"He is very close to being ready," said assistant coach Richie Murphy.

"He's come in over the last couple of weeks, done very well and is learning quickly."

Blessed with explosive speed and strength, Larmour has already demonstrated an ability to step off both feet without losing any acceleration, making him a nightmare for opposing defenders.

Although he scored on his Leinster debut, it was his solo try against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in October that made the wider rugby community sit up and take notice.

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Jordan Larmour's incredible breakthrough try against Ulster

He may have developed a reputation for scoring spectacular tries and making gravity-defying line breaks, but his colleagues have been most impressed by the work-rate of a player who was playing schoolboy rugby two years ago.

"I think from his performances, he's been tested against high-quality opposition now and I think he's come through unbelievably well," added Henshaw.

"I know the feeling, coming through as a young player, making that step up from the academy structure - it's not easy.

"I think the way he has conducted himself and the way he has performed has been exceptional.

"He is a really well grounded guy. His work ethic is incredible, he's incredibly diligent and works really hard in the gym on his skills and doing his extras so there is no surprise why he is playing the way he is, because he works so hard."

"His work ethic is incredible" - Robbie Henshaw on his Ireland and Leinster team-mate
"His work ethic is incredible" - Robbie Henshaw on his Ireland and Leinster team-mate

Leinster have also been impressed with Larmour's willingness to make improvements to his game.

The province have already upgraded the youngster from an academy contract to a full-time deal this season.

"The big thing about him is he's learning and he's been so good for us and you can see how he's adapted his game," said assistant coach Girvan Dempsey.

"People would have said that positionally he would have been under a bit of pressure last year and even earlier this year. I think he's worked so hard on that.

"I think his counter-attack ability is, as you've seen, unrecognisable - I think his footwork is excellent.

"We're pleased with how he's progressing and he's open in terms of his own game, he'll say straight away that he needs work and there's still elements of his game that he needs to improve."

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