Joe Schmidt on Larmour's battle with Kearney and why Marmion starts
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has said that Jordan Larmour will battle with Rob Kearney for a place in the Irish side to play the All Blacks next weekend.
After scoring a hat-trick in Ireland's 54-7 win over Italy in Chicago last weekend, Larmour has retained his place in the Ireland team to play Argentina this weekend at the Aviva Stadium with Kearney sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Larmour has been electric for both Leinster and Ireland but Schmidt insists that it's his challenge to come and grab the jersey off the former British & Irish Lion.
"You are always looking to make decisions and be proactive about offering opportunity but at the same time there are players who have earned a position in the team and somebody else has to come along and grab it off them," Schmidt said after naming his team at Carton House on Thursday.
"Those two will probably continue to tussle when Rob's available next week."
The Argentina game will be just Larmour's second start for Ireland after six previous appearances off the bench and Schmidt thinks that the visit of Mario Ledesma's side to Dublin on Saturday will be a great platform for the prodigious 21-year-old to build his confidence in international rugby.
"It very much is a step up, he's given us confidence off the back of big Test matches where he's come into the game late," added Schmidt.
"In Twickenham he came on in the midfield and did a really good job. He came on in the third Test match against Australia and did a great job coming in at full-back and acquitted himself very well last week, both at full-back and when he shifted to the left wing so that versatility, that enthusiasm, he's a ball of energy from back there.
"That gets other people energised and hopefully he can maintain that throughout the game and give Jordan some more confidence is what is building to be a really positive introduction to Test rugby so far."
Schmidt has also handed a start to Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion after Luke McGrath started against Italy in Chicago.
McGrath scored Ireland's second try of the game but makes way for Marmion who has played more games for Ireland than both McGrath and fellow scrum-half John Cooney combined.
According to Schmidt, his experience was one of the deciding factors in his selection.
"I thought John Cooney was really good off the bench, so that was a headache and an elongated discussion for us," Schmidt continued.
"But we thought Luke was probably more familiar with the environment and the level.
"So Luke is on the bench and you're right about Kieran, he got some time last week and played well.
"He got a knock on the ankle and just missed two games in a row. So for him to be in the mix next week we felt he had to play this week.
"And also he is probably the experienced hand. He is the guy who, when we lost Conor on the Thursday before playing England a couple of years ago, Kieran stepped straight in and did a great job.
"So he's had the most experience, and he's a great little player for us."
Meanwhile Iain Henderson will start alongside James Ryan in a new-look second-row with Tadhg Beirne's omission from the matchday squad stemming from a desire to manage his minutes.
"As much as anything it's because Iain wasn't involved last week.
"Dev had a run-out last week. Dev's minutes are a lot higher this season than Iain's. So we felt Iain really needs to put his hand up and probably play at least 50 or 60 minutes at a really good tempo.
"And that's a really good challenge for him. Because we know we can get that out of Dev, and James Ryan has demonstrated that a number of times this season, and earlier on in the year when he was working his way through the Six Nations."