Conor O'Shea is predicting a bright international career for Jordan Larmour. The Leinster youngster could win his first Ireland cap against O'Shea's Italy in the Six Nations this Saturday.
O'Shea, who was capped 35 times at full-back by Ireland, has been impressed by Larmour's rapid rise at club level this season and feels the back-three speedster is 'box office'.
“I have to say I personally can’t wait to see him up close and personal...I hope he doesn’t do too well.
“He is box office, isn’t he? To have that sort of ability and I’m sure Joe will nurture him through only the way Joe does.
“I’d love to have been a fullback who could step off both feet and gas people from 70 yards every week. It will be fun watching him when he comes on but we will look at him after the game.”
The Italy head-coach was asked if 20-year-old Larmour reminds him of a younger version of himself.
“No, no, no!...he reminds me of a young Christian Cullen, that’s who he reminds me of because I haven’t seen someone who can step off both feet like that."
“I couldn’t even step off one foot, I just ran straight the whole time! He’s talented and, hopefully, we’ll welcome him.”
Jordan Larmour at Ireland training - ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
There was no room for sentiment from O'Shea in his team selection - opting to leave former Leinster out-half Ian McKinley out of the match-day 23 for the game at the Aviva.
“I knew it would mean a lot to him, so I said as much.
“But Ian’s a rugby player, he’s not a romantic story. Ian wants to be picked because he is the number one rugby player and has the right to be in this team at the time, not because he’s a story.
“Sport is full of romance but the hard-nosed side of it is that at the moment, Tommy Allan had the jersey last week and was outstanding, and Carlo Canna is one of the top points scorers in PRO-14 rugby and an exciting attacking talent who brings a different skillset.
The Italian team shows three changes in the pack - Luca Bigi is in at hooker, Nicola Quaglio at loose-head and Braam Steyn at open-side.
Italy XV to face Ireland:
15. Matteo Minozzi, 14. Tommaso Benvenuti, 13. Tommaso Boni, 12. Tommaso Castello, 11. Mattia Bellini, 10. Tommaso Allan, 9. Marcello Violi; 1. Nicola Quaglio, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Simone Ferrari, 4. Alessandro Zanni, 5. Dean Budd, 6. Sebastien Negri, 7. Braam Steyn, 8. Sergio Parisse (captain)
16. Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17. Andrea Lovotti, 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 19. Federico Ruzza, 20. Maxime Mata Mbanda, 21. Edoardo Gori, 22. Carlo Canna, 23. Jayden Hayward