Competition fierce but Jordan Larmour reminding Andy Farrell of his talent

Andy Farrell is delighted to have Jordan Larmour pushing for a Six Nations starting place
Competition fierce but Jordan Larmour reminding Andy Farrell of his talent

AIR JORDAN: Jordan Larmour at squad training in Quinta do Lago, Portugal on Monday. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

It may come as a surprise to Ireland supporters and pundits in the regular habit of picking Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad for him that if the head coach could only select one person and clone him it would be a player that has not featured in a Test side for 18 months.


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Your home for the latest news, views and analysis of this year's Six Nations Championship from our award winning sports team.

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It is to Jordan Larmour that Farrell turns when underlining just how important his wider squad will be when Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations title bid gets underway in Cardiff this Saturday.

The talented wing who made his first great impression on the Irish rugby public with a spellbinding try for Leinster at Thomond Park on Stephen’s Day 2017 earned the most recent of his 30 Test caps in July 2021 against Japan. Yet as Ireland continue their preparations for the 2023 championship at a warm-weather training camp based at Quinta do Lago on Portugal’s Algarve, Farrell has nothing but praise for a player he hopes will push established starting wings Mack Hansen and James Lowe hard for their places.

The head coach has a 37-man squad in Portugal with competition for places one of the fundamental building blocks for the success of his world number one-ranked side.

That competitive edge is typified by the race for the back three positions where Jimmy O’Brien, Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale, perhaps the surprise selection in that department, are also in the mix. Yet the Ireland boss is delighted to see Larmour healthy again and firing on all cylinders this season, not least 10 days ago in the home Champions Cup victory over Racing 92.

"It's great to see him back, isn't it?” Farrell said 10 days ago at the Guinness Six Nations media day in London. “He's certainly a character we've missed around the place.

“If you could have 36 players of one type of personality, you'd probably want 36 Jordans. He's such a great guy to work with.

“He's so positive, so aware of himself, such a good team-mate etc. It's great to see him back fully fit, and playing some bloody good rugby. I think the break he made at the weekend from the halfway line when Ross (Byrne) threw him the ball. It takes something special of an athlete to do what Jordan did.

“I know what type of talent he is and what he’s got in the locker but having said that he knows that what’s happened over the last couple of year as well. He knows that the competition’s grown in that department with Mack playing so well and James Lowe playing so well in that position.

“Then you’re hoping that Jacob Stockdale starts to fight and want to get to back to where he was. So it’s all good.” 

Farrell has also been impressed by the squad’s only uncapped player, Leinster’s Jamie Osborne, whose versatility across the backline the head coach values. The 21-year-old has been training with Ireland since the 2021 November internationals and was selected for both Emerging Ireland and Ireland A before Christmas. Osborne is named in this Irish squad as a centre, ostensibly covering for the injured Robbie Henshaw but has played on the left wing and at full-back for his province this season as well wearing both the 12 and 13 jerseys.

“Well you look at him and what I was talking about in terms of playing different positions. He’s played really well on the wing, he’s played in both centre positions and he’s grown up as a full-back.

“So he’s very comfortable and you see him there with the left peg and dropping into full-back with Leinster, he’s very comfortable there.

“It’s good for him because he’s been in our squad quite a few times now so he’s not coming in as that nervous kid. He’s been able to be himself and what’s been pretty impressive with that experience that he has had is that he’s made the best use of that when he’s been given the opportunity, with Robbie being injured. He’s grabbed his chance, hasn’t he?” 

Farrell was asked whether Osborne was now ready for a Test debut, and his reply implied the answer would be revealed during the stay at Quinta di Lago.

“I wouldn’t be picking someone that I couldn’t trust, if and when needed, but having said that we’ll see how people handle the pressure within camp because sometimes that’s just as fierce as it is on a matchday. So the next 12 days will tell us a lot.” 

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