Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Beirne have to start for Ireland 1 year ago

Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Beirne have to start for Ireland

There's only so much you can take from an experimental Ireland side thrashing an Italian side without a host of frontline players in Chicago.

Rugby fans can often trumpet the fact that there are no friendlies in international rugby, that each match is a Test match, but this really was the counter-argument to that theory.

The stadium was half-full, the heavy hitters were all left at home and the match largely resembled an opposed training session but such is the depth of Irish Rugby under Joe Schmidt that absence creates opportunity and therein debate.

Jack Conan impressed in the place of CJ Stander, Rhys Ruddock captained strongly in the absence of Peter O'Mahony and Tadhg Beirne and Jordan Larmour were once again phenomenal.

Beirne and Larmour's talent has been known for sometime now and the win over Italy further underlined their case to start in the meaningful tests against Argentina and New Zealand later this month.

Tadhg Beirne

Beirne led the PRO14 in turnovers won last season and he's made a storming start to life in Limerick with Munster this season.

His footwork, workrate and mobility is outstanding and he showed his strength against Italy as he crashed over for a two-try brace.

Devin Toner and Iain Henderson have been excellent for Ireland this year but Beirne has been operating at a different level for sometime now and a potential second-row partnership with James Ryan looks more and more appealing with each game that passes.

The Jordan Larmour situation is a bit more tricky. The prodigious 21-year-old has been outstanding for Leinster and has scored some sensational tries for the PRO14 and European champions but he's tasked with displacing Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Jacob Stockdale and Andrew Conway from the Ireland matchday squad.

Earls won the Rugby Players Ireland Player's Player of the Year award last season and looks to be in as good as a shape as he ever has been during his career.

Stockdale set a Six Nations try scoring record for Ireland last season and is about as prolific a finisher as the country has ever had while Andrew Conway continues to compete for an opportunity to showcase his talents.

Rob Kearney is the incumbent at full-back and performed very well last season but he has not scored a try for Ireland since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and with Larmour already outscoring him at Leinster, you wonder how much longer Schmidt can ignore him?

The New Zealander dismissed questions surrounding Kearney's standing in the team during the Six Nations earlier this year and he insists that he still has an awful lot to offer the national team but at some stage Kearney will be replaced by Larmour.

Many figure that that succession will most likely take place after next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, maybe sometime after that, but Larmour's incredible rise may accelerate that process.

The reality is is that Larmour has started just one game for Ireland, and while he bagged three tries and assisted another, it's hard to tell if he has what it takes to start at this stage given the caliber of the porous Italian side that turned up to Soldier Field.

New Zealand and Argentina would provide much sterner tests but would Schmidt be willing to thrust him into the starting side in the games that really matter this month?

Larmour was tested against Toulouse last month and it's those types of white-hot examinations that will really test him.

The blowout wins in Chicago and the heavy victories in the PRO14 will only tell us so much, but on the basis of Saturday's win at Soldier Field, there's still so much more to come.