Jordan Larmour’s spectacular solo, counter-attacking try against Munster on St Stephen’s Day may have catapulted the rising Leinster star into the nation’s consciousness but it came as no surprise to the opposition coach that night, Felix Jones, writes
Like the 20-year-old Larmour, Munster backs and attack coach Jones is an alumnus of St Andrew’s College in Dublin, captaining his school from out-half in 2005. Having maintained his contacts there, the former Munster and Ireland full-back is well aware of the talent emerging from its ranks but is also excited by the calibre of young backs within the southern province, led by Academy wing/centre Calvin Nash.
Also 20 and a former Crescent College pupil, Nash started on the wing for the A team in the B&I Cup last night against Ospreys Select, has already appeared four times for the senior team and Jones is as enamoured by the Munster prospect as he is Larmour.
“Jordan is a phenomenal player. He went to Andrew’s and I saw him play there and he’s a special player. There’s a lot of talent in that school and there’s a lot of guys like David Jones, (Director of Rugby David) Boyd and Charlie (Doel) who’ve been battling hard over the years.
“We’ve some great young talent here at Munster. I think Calvin Nash is going to be a hell of a player. He’s got a huge amount of talent and puts in a lot of effort. And there’s a couple of guys even younger ... I won’t mention their names because once you do they get earmarked.”
Nash is one of a string of backs who are currently making Munster’s attacking play fizz, their good form stirred by competition for places with Jones believing in a positive knock-on effect from the bottom up. In-form players help the system work, the system inspires good form and also, the coach adds: “I think the competition here is a massive part.”
He continued: “Calvin Nash, Alex Wootton, Andrew Conway, Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Darren Sweetnam, Stevie Fitz (Stephen Fitzgerald) had a great showing for the A team last weekend and there’s a couple of others coming through, and that’s just the back three.
“So there’s definitely that element there, that guys are pushing each other. That’s why the A team going well is also so important to the club. When the first team train they’re training against another team that also has its own ambitions.”
A further bonus for Munster, said Jones, was that the drive being shown by the younger players softens the blow of the impending departure of star full-back Simon Zebo at the end of the season.
“It’s definitely disappointing to see Zeebs leaving but this is professional sport and somebody will come up and replace him. I mentioned Calvin Nash, there are guys there that are young and hungry. Look at Jordan Larmour for Leinster, people never heard of him a few months ago. That’s the way it goes now. But it’s very disappointing to see Zeebs leave.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.