Jordan Larmour performance has Irish fans reaching for the rosary beads 1 year ago

Jordan Larmour performance has Irish fans reaching for the rosary beads

Argentina did what every right-minded Test side would do. Jordan Larmour was served up bomb after bomb and got a lesson in front of our very eyes.

The positive is that Jordan Larmour grew into the match as it progressed and even started to cope with the barrage in the final quarter.

The reality is that New Zealand would pursue him with even more vigour if Larmour is handed the 15 jersey for next Saturday.

Earlier in the week, before Rob Kearney [shoulder] was ruled out, Ireland Women's centre Jenny Murphy said she would start with the veteran Leinster fullback ahead of Larmour 'every day of the week'. She argued that most of the senior players would prefer Kearney in a crunch game too.

Tuesday training will tell Joe Schmidt if Kearney has a chance of making it back into Ireland's starting XV but, even if he does, his last game was October 27 against Treviso. To toss him straight in from the get-go against the world champions would be a tough ask, but Kearney has had many of those over his 14-season career.

As for Larmour, he now has two starts at fullback for Ireland and will take a lot away from both of them.

He knew he was always going to be asked questions but those questions now ring louder after the Argentina game. Tomás Cubelli and Nicolas Sanchez put him under the pump with a smart, aerial strategy and it paid off.

Stern examination

The most worrying moment for the 21-year-old Leinster star arrived when Sanchez steepled one right down Larmour's throat as he circled back to his tryline. Keith Earls arrived on the scene - perhaps eager to help - but Larmour called the catch. He did not make it and Will Addison gathered the bouncing ball. Ireland were able to exit... just.

An unfortunate bounce or a better Argentina kick-chase and Larmour's indecision could have cost a try. He contested another four over the course of the game, won two and shelled another two.

Post-match, Joe Schmidt claimed Pumas No.15 Emiliano Boffelli was not jumping to contest and merely to put Larmour off. He noted, too, how England had similarly targeted Damien McKenzie in New Zealand's narrow win at Twickenham.

It was a stern examination and it was often hard to watch. Here was a young man learning the ropes in front of 50,000 fans and millions tuning in from home.

One of Larmour's great strengths, though, is his self belief. Just because he was struggling in the high ball did not mean he was hiding, nor feeling sorry for himself. He got on a lot of ball and committed two and three men when he got his feet moving.

He made 46 metres off 14 carries and beat 5 Argentina defenders. That was the good stuff. The work-ons, as Joe Schmidt would call them, are high takes, tackles [he missed all three he attempted] and better presentation when tackled.

Schmidt left Larmour on until the end and he definitely improved with each passing minute, much like Ireland. There was a nice moment for him after an hour, when he called a mark and pinged a return kick just past the halfway line. The crowd reacted warmly to that and Larmour was buoyed.

You could see that when he linked up well with Will Addison up the right flank and chipped ahead before chest-bumping a covering Argentina defender. He will take a lot out of this one but Schmidt has a big call to make in the coming days.

If Kearney is even 90% fit, we suspect he will start.

If not, Schmidt may yet turn to Andrew Conway or even Addison.

Larmour versus the All Blacks could be all sorts of madness - good and bad - but most Irish fans will be clutching for the rosary beads. Prayers will be said for that Kearney shoulder.