The turn of the year often offers the opportunity for reflection; a review of personal achievements, moments which were special, sets of circumstances which have helped you develop and mature as a person.
It’s a good time to take stock on what has transpired and subsequently, plan and make changes for the new year ahead.
When you think of the year Jordan Larmour has had in 2018, a few minutes or a moment to reflect won’t cut it.
An Ireland debut, a Six Nations and Grand Slam, a provincial double with Leinster, a series win in Australia, a first Ireland start, toppling the All Blacks, winning the Guinness PRO14 Young Player Of The Year and nominated for World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of 2018 – Larmour has been through and experienced it all.
In a year which will likely prove to be defining as the 21-year-old continues his fledgling career, how can he actually take stock of 2018?
The answer is he can’t, really.
Unfortunately, playing professional rugby in the northern hemisphere doesn’t leave a lot of free time at this time of year.
“Yeah, I haven’t really looked back and thought about it,” Larmour told Pundit Arena.
“Thinking about it now, it was obviously a pretty special season for Irish rugby and [for me] personally. But yeah, I think it’s so busy that you can’t really look back and reflect, there’s a game every week. You’re just kind of in the thick of it but I like it that way. Hopefully, 2019 can be even better.”
How could 2019 possibly be better for the St. Andrew’s College alumnus? Well, there’s a certain tournament taking place in Japan at the end of the year which will prove pivotal in answering that question.
As Larmour will say later in this interview, there is plenty of rugby to be played between now and the Japan showpiece. First and foremost, Larmour has been reviewing the disappointing loss to Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday, looking to learn the lessons from that defeat as they prepare for the visit of Ulster to the RDS this weekend.
“Your playing against people that you’re competing for spots on the Irish team,” Larmour says when trying to explain the ‘niggle’ at the Limerick venue.
“So everyone is trying to play better, play to their best. Sometimes your emotions can get the better of you. That leads to ill-discipline, giving away silly penalties and it just all adds up, like a snowball effect.”
Larmour hasn’t been involved in too many defeats in the early stages of his professional career, the achievements in 2018 prove that. Some people may believe that the timing surrounding Larmour’s first steps into senior rugby with both Leinster and Ireland was lucky, he came into two highly motivated, winning environments.
However, this would be a disservice to the work ethic and strive for excellence which the 21-year-old has in spades at both a personal level and in a team environment. As he explains, winning is like an addiction – you want more of it.
“There are two really good groups there and two groups you want to be involved in with Leinster and Ireland. The winning mindset and once you get that taste of success or winning, you just want more and more and more, you can’t get enough. I think we’ve all had that taste, I think we’re all as hungry as ever.”
That hunger brought Larmour to Monte Carlo at the end of November as he was nominated for the prestigious World Rugby Breakthrough Player Of The Year award. Larmour lost out on that title to Springbok prodigy Aphiwe Dyantyi but he’s not bothered about it. Personal accolades don’t motivate him, instead, the 21-year-old talks about getting to experience a city famous for its harbour, casinos and Formula 1 races.
“Yeah, I don’t really get too fussed up about them or anything. It’s obviously nice to get nominated or to win them but at the end of the day it’s a team sport.
“It was nice to go to Monaco, it’s a pretty cool place! Some of the sportscars and the yachts going around were pretty cool.”
Nominations, awards and black-tie ceremonies in Monaco – surely it’s only human nature for these things to go to one’s head? Not for the Leinster and Ireland winger-cum-fullback as he cites the influence of his family and friends in helping him keep his feet firmly on the ground.
“To be honest, it actually hasn’t [proved more difficult to stay grounded]. I’d never been one to be reading about myself or listening to it. I kind of just have a good group of friends and family around me that keep me grounded. I know at the end of the day, the rugby is the most important. I just want to be performing, keeping fit, to keep putting my best foot forward, really.”
Like many other players of Larmour’s stature, when he has those rare moments in which he can switch off from the game, there is little talk about rugby and those close to him know this is the path to take.
“I wouldn’t really talk about rugby with my friends. It’s a nice switch off. My family, they would never be telling me ‘someone wrote this about you’, I don’t really like that, so it’s easy.”
Looking ahead, there’s no shortage of targets on the horizon in both blue and green. That applies on a personal level too as Larmour highlights his kicking game and his high-ball skills as two areas he is keen to improve upon in 2019.
Hours on the training ground in UCD and of course, Carton House, will be applied as Larmour strives to improve as a player.
With the start of the Six Nations and Ireland’s opening clash with England at the Aviva Stadium a little over four weeks away, all eyes will be on Joe Schmidt’s charges as they head into a defining year.
Larmour believes that he and his teammates just need to continue what they’re doing – driving the high standards they set among themselves – to continue their successful run.
“I don’t think anyone is thinking about the World Cup yet because we have a lot of rugby to be played between now and then. So, it’s kind of about staying the present, keep yourself fit, keep playing well and keep putting your hand up for selection.
“It’s pretty easy with this group to just keep doing what we’re doing, not thinking about too far into the future.”
As the interview draws to a close and perhaps with all he’s achieved in 2018 now fresh in his mind, I ask Larmour to pick out a personal highlight, a moment which was truly special. In truly humble fashion, it’s not the trophies nor the medals or the red carpet in the luxurious Monte Carlo – but winning his first cap.
“Getting my first caps was a big thing. Growing up all I wanted to do was play for Leinster and Ireland. So when both those days came around, it was really special for me and my family.”
Further special days are no doubt around the corner for Larmour in 2019 and beyond but for now, it’s about taking it one day at a time and you wouldn’t blame him for not straying from that mantra which has proved so successful for him thus far.
Energia, Official Energy Partner of Leinster Rugby, announces a multi-year partnership with winger Jordan Larmour. The long-term agreement allows Energia to deliver its vision through their new campaign #ThePowerBehindLeinster, powering rugby from grassroots through to the European stage.