Ireland captain says Larmour can be the best

Updated / Friday, 9 Feb 2018 18:11

Larmour, back right, gets ready for his first Ireland senior team shot

Jordan Larmour can bridge the Test match generation gap and produce his "devastating" form on his Ireland debut on Saturday, according to Rory Best.

Exciting full-back Larmour is primed for his Test bow in the NatWest 6 Nations clash against Italy in Dublin this weekend, after a string of fine performances in his breakthrough campaign with Leinster.

Italy boss Conor O'Shea likened the 20-year-old rookie to All Blacks great Christian Cullen on Thursday - but Ireland skipper Best is convinced Larmour can shake off the hype.

The 35-year-old Ireland hooker Best joked that he got married in the same year that Larmour appeared as a Leinster mascot, but insisted he has no qualms about the highly-rated youngster stepping into the Test arena.

"I'd imagine Jordan might not even have been born when Christian Cullen was producing magic for the All Blacks," said Best.

"It was Cian Healy who produced a picture of Jordan as a mascot, waving a flag before a Leinster game, in 2009. The most frightening part of that is that I got married in 2009!

"He doesn't strike you as one who gets too uptight but at the same time he gets very little wrong in training, and that speaks volumes about his character.

"And if you want to see how he reacts in a pressurised environment, just look at how he has gone in the biggest provincial games so far.

"The Champions Cup is one thing, but the big inter-pro games I think are another step up really, and against Munster at Thomond, and then against us at the RDS, he really stood up and showed what he's capable of.

"With quick ball he can be devastating, so it's up to us to try to provide that platform for him."

Larmour takes a seat on Ireland's bench on Saturday and is line to make his international debut against Italy as a replacement.

Best of Ulster gets a tackle in on Leinster's Larmour

Former New Zealand star Cullen in fact won the first of his 58 All Blacks caps in 1996, with Larmour born the following year.

The 20-year-old’s destructive best has caught the rest of the Irish provinces cold and now Best believes the fast-improving back-three flier has all the credentials to succeed on the international stage.

"I think we've seen quite a bit of him over the years coming in, to fill a spot, and now all the other provinces in some shape or form have been affected by him over the last few months," said Best.

"Even just the change of pace he has in a walk-through that sounds ridiculous, he's just a very exciting talent.

"It's massive for him to get his debut, and for him to do it for the first time, he's massively deserving of being in the squad."

Follow our live blog of Ireland v Italy (2.15pm kick-off) on RTÉ Online and the RTÉ News Now App, or listen to commentary from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.