As part of a new series we’re taking a look at the best young players hailing from the Guinness PRO14, and what better place to start than with the youngest member of Ireland’s World Cup squad (There are four 23-year-olds in Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Joey Carbery and Jacob Stockdale – Larmour is 22).
Everyone loves an exciting, explosive young talent at a World Cup – see Bryan Habana in 2007 – and with games to come against Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa – twinkle-toed Larmour will get chances.
The Dublin-born back boards the flight as part of Joe Schmidt’s 31, his ability to play full-back, wing or outside centre no doubt in his favour, and played the full 80 in the weekend win over Wales.
“We know we’ve a lot to work on and it’s all about keep building towards Japan,” said Larmour after that match. “Even when we get there, keep trying to build and keep getting better as a team. You need to be playing matches to do that. Get that rhythm and get those combinations going.”
Moving from future to past, how has Larmour’s meteoric rise come about? A player who started in both the European Champions Cup final and Guinness PRO14 Final at the end of his first senior season.
The 5’10’’ flyer first caught eyes in the professional game coming through St Andrew’s College in the Leinster Schools Cup.
Switching between hockey and rugby, Larmour claimed All-Ireland titles and national underage caps before finally settling on the oval ball when selected for the national U18s squad.
A place in Leinster’s sub-academy followed, with the ever-watchful Schmidt spotting the talent early and inviting the youngster to senior Ireland training.
“The first contact I had with Joe was when I was playing for a mixture of schools,” Larmour said. “We were playing a New Zealand team who were travelling around Ireland, playing different teams.
“He was down at that game and that’s when I first met him. Then I went into camp when I was Under-20.”
Larmour shined in the 2017 U20 Six Nations, playing on the right wing in Ireland’s first three games – scoring two tries against Italy – before a move into full-back for clashes with Wales and France.
Then came his announcement on the Guinness PRO14 scene, a try on debut in the opening round of 2017-18 away at the Dragons.
Electrifying crowds whenever he touched the ball, Larmour swapped in and out with Rob Kearney, helping himself to eight tries in 16 matches.
Midway through the season the youngster’s form powered him to the 2018 Guinness Six Nations, where even a certain Sergio Parisse mentioned him at the launch: “Wow, he looks a fresh talent! He reminds me of Christian Cullen…hopefully we don’t see him too much against us.”
Italy did see Larmour in the fixture between the two, Larmour’s debut. He didn’t get a score but did help himself to a hat-trick against the Azzurri later that year.
The Leinsterman didn’t do too badly on the silverware front either, three appearances off the bench in the Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam winning team, followed up months later by that famous Leinster double, and one hell of a try against Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 Final.
Larmour now has 12 tries in 39 caps for Leinster and five in 16 for his country, many more are surely just around the corner.
“I remember when I was a kid growing up, watching the World Cup and thinking, ‘I’d love to be there one day’. I have that opportunity now, so I want to grab it with both hands and not let the moment pass me by.”
Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!
General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.