Is Jordan Larmour the ideal bench player for Leinster against La Rochelle?
Leinster face La Rochelle in the Champions Cup final this weekend. It's a rematch with Ronan O'Gara's side that knocked them out of last year's competition.
This year, Leinster have dominated everyone in front of them with a mostly settled team. Unlike last year, the only major concerns for the final are Tadhg Furlong and James Lowe. Both are critical players but it's also not unrealistic to think Leinster can win without them. Whereas last season they were missing Jonathan Sexton.
Sexton didn't play against Munster on Saturday night. Harry Byrne started at 10. But it was Jordan Larmour who ran the game from fullback.
He repeatedly broke off big gains and set Leinster up to score points or change field position by making defenders miss. It was a reminder of just how talented the 24-year-old is despite his limited exposure on the field this season. Larmour isn't likely to take a starting spot unless Lowe and/or Jimmy O'Brien miss out, but he could force his way into the squad.
Gerry Thornley is excited by the prospect.
"If anybody has after last Saturday night, it's him," Thornley said.
"It was a timely reminder lest we forget of what an extraordinary one-off player he is. There's really no other player like him in Irish rugby. Probably the nearest thing to him in the last 10 or 12 years was probably Luke Fitzgerald. That kind of acceleration and quick feet, but Larmour is even more mesmerizing.
"He was making everyone else look like they were jogging on the spot.
"It got to be frankly ridiculous."
And it's not just that Larmour has rare talent. He is not an established star for Ireland because of inconsistency and a narrower skill set than those starting ahead of him. But he is a versatile player who has experience in four different positions at international level.
Instead of putting Ciaran Frawley and Ross Byrne on the bench together, it might make more sense to put Larmour in that number 23 jersey.
"He provides an x-factor if you're chasing the game with 20 minutes to go. He's your classic number 23 as well isn't he? He can play fullback, he can play either wing and he can play 13. Didn't he play 13 for some of that Grand Slam match in England?
"He didn't play for 10 weeks and he looks like he's as fresh as he possibly could be. There aren't that many players in Irish rugby...that have that ability to just beat players in a phone box. It's real food for thought for them. I wouldn't be surprised if he does play 23."
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