By Brendan O’Brien
Jordan Larmour will tell you it wasn’t bothering him but then it him who brought it up first.
“It’s always nice to cross over,” he said of the 19th minute try that got Ireland on the scoresheet on Saturday.
“I hadn’t scored one in a while. It was on the back of some serious work by the forwards, getting around the corner, taking on the line and getting over so credit goes to them as well.”
So, how long exactly had it been since his last?
“Samoa, in the World Cup, I think.”
Interesting. He’d bagged 37 minutes against the All Blacks and 80 against the Scots on the back of 526 minutes across seven games with Leinster since that day in Fukuoka. That’s a long wait for a man accustomed to going places so fast.
“Not really,” he claimed. “When you step onto the pitch you just want to put in a good performance. Sometimes that is scoring tries and sometimes it’s not. You can create tries too. I don’t think about it too much.
“I just think about my role in the team and try to do my best. There’s a lot of competition in this squad and you have have to be performing to keep your spot. All 31 of us have that in the back of our heads.”
Maybe so but Larmour’s score was good to see in terms of the team’s evolution. The whole purpose of having someone like him rather than Rob Kearney at full-back is to give Ireland a more attacking edge and tries are simply the tip of that spear.
Kearney was a ridiculously good servant for his country across 95 caps but his 16 tries amounted to one every six games or so. He went 25 games without one towards the end of his time in green until dotting down thrice in his last four games.
You could argue that Joe Schmidt’s strategies might have had something to do with that. Perhaps.
Larmour, for what its worth at this early juncture, now has five from eight with those figures being somewhat artificially enhanced by a hat-trick against a shoddy Italian side in Chicago.
It wasn’t just the fact of the try he scored against Wales that made the heart skip. It was the vision and confidence to go for a gap where there was none, slipping inside Nick Tompkins and eluding three other would-be-interceptors on the way.
Larmour’s style and pace have spawned comparisons with many a speedster of yore.
It was put to Andy Farrell that the young Dubliner wasn’t all that different to Jason Robinson who played alongside the Ireland head coach half-a-dozen times with England in 2007.
“He’s learning the whole time, Jordan,” said Farrell who, like Robinson, was a rugby league convert.
I thought his ability to read the game was way better this week. I’m very keen to keep developing his decision-making as far as the back play is concerned.
“But at the same time [it’s about] making sure I don’t dampen anything he’s about because his x-factor is special. Jason and Jordan have got similar type of feet. The way that Jordan broke those tackles for the try… He has similar type of strength as well. Super exciting.”
Schmidt was clearly a fan of Larmour’s given he handed him a full debut against Italy in February 2018 when he still had another four months to go before calling an end to his teenage years. The current regime looks set to suit him better.
There were times two days ago when Ireland players bounded about their own 22 like game but naive baby deer in a reckless attempt to run the ball out but, for the most part, the ambition to be more inventive with ball in hand is to be welcomed.
Larmour spoke last week about the need for the players to enjoy themselves and the commitment to being, as Stuart Lancaster would put it, comfortable with chaos has been embraced at training where wings and centres and full-backs are taking turns repping in each other’s slots.
IT remains to be seen if this proves to be more successful than the rugby that was so structured but so, so successful under Schmidt but it sure is different. That was apparent from the first minute on Saturday when Ireland made for the wings rather than up the centre.
“It’s just playing heads-up rugby, playing where the space is. Wales are a serious defensive team so it is going to take a while to break them down and grind them out.
“We talked about playing front door early and trying to get a bit of momentum.
“But when the space is out wide you’ve just got to put the heads up and play it and get the ball into space. We were pleased with that,” said Larmour. “As a back line our skills were good so we can keep looking to improve.”