Larmour v Kolbe: ‘You’d pay money to see them on the same field, wouldn’t you?’

Larmour v Kolbe: ‘You’d pay money to see them on the same field, wouldn’t you?’

AS IF TWO European titans going head-to-head in a high-stakes showdown wasn’t intriguing enough, the prospect of Jordan Larmour and Cheslin Kolbe taking to the same pitch is another exciting subplot to Saturday’s Pool 1 clash.

Similar in playing style and stature, the pair are two of the most dangerous and exciting young players in world rugby and have the ability to tear up opposition defences in a flash.

Larmour is excited to play in front of a sold-out RDS. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Larmour, nominated for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award for his outstanding debut season, is expected to start for Leinster on the right wing, while Kolbe will again line out in the Toulouse back three at the RDS.

Springbok Kolbe is part of an arsenal of attacking talent in a lethal Toulouse backline, and is one of the key dangermen Leinster will have marked in advance of the pivotal meeting of the two four-time European winners.

It promises to be just one of many fascinating match-ups across the park, as defending champions Leinster bid to avenge their defeat to the Top 14 side last October and regain control of the pool heading into the final round of action.

Kolbe — small in stature and lightning quick — has been part of Toulouse’s impressive resurgence with the French heavyweights regaining the swagger and conviction they played with during their glory days, as they travel to Dublin on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run.

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Leinster are understandably wary of the threat he, and the likes of Maxime Medard, will pose on Saturday lunchtime, but Stuart Lancaster is as excited as any to see Kolbe and Larmour go head-to-head again.

“Where do you want to start?” the Leinster senior coach laughed when asked about the 25-year-old’s threats. 

“I mean I’ve seen him run around people, dodge around people and then I saw him score another try where he actually ran through the 10, just ran over him. I mean you think he doesn’t look huge but he ran through the middle of a ruck the other day, and yeah he’s got incredible feet.

“You’d pay money to see Jordan Larmour and Kolbe on the same field, wouldn’t you?”

Larmour, meanwhile, is relishing the chance to come up against the South African again.

“I suppose we’re slightly similar in some aspects, yeah, but also there’s some differences as well,” the Ireland international says.

“He is pretty good off both feet, he is quick. If there is a small gap he will go through it. He seems to embarrass defenders so you know it is going to be tough to stop when he gets going or gets in a bit of space so we are going to have to all be switched on.

“But I think across their whole team, the whole backline, there are threats all over the park so we have to stay switched on.

“When we played the last time over there, he [Kolbe] went through us off a scrum so, yeah, you know it is going to be all hands on deck when he has the ball.”

Kolbe is one of the most dangerous players in world rugby. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Larmour, who started at fullback against Munster during the Christmas period before being rested for the inter-pro win over Ulster last weekend, is due to return to the Leinster starting XV in the number 14 jersey, with Rob Kearney primed to start at fullback.

The former St Andrew’s College man has played every minute of the province’s Heineken Champions Cup pool campaign this season, and is set to win his 32nd cap for Leinster on Saturday afternoon.

His crucial intercept try against Bath at the Rec in the first of the December back-to-back fixtures launched Leinster to an away victory in round three, a score which took his tally to the season to four.

While Larmour has not managed to produce a ‘signature’ try this term, the sort of virtuoso score which embellished his extraordinary year in 2018, it’s not something he thinks about.

“I don’t really think about it, to be honest, I am just trying to do my job and do my best for the team,” he continues.

While a lot of preparation will go into his performance during the week, when he gets his hands on the ball, Larmour doesn’t tend to overthink what he’ll do next.

“It’s kinda just reacting, going on instinct when you have the ball. That is how I play, I don’t really overthink it. I go with my gut and if I ever see a gap go for it.

“It is important to keep learning, especially with the players and the coaches you have around you and the experience they have, so always keep learning, keep growing my knowledge and keep getting better.”

Lamour is expected to start for Leinster. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Having tasted European success in his first season in senior rugby, as Leinster lifted a fourth Champions Cup title in Bilbao, Larmour is hungry for more but appreciates the size of the task ahead after growing up watching Toulouse dominate the competition in years gone by.

The prospect of a sold-out European game at the RDS is also an exciting one for the Leinster players, with a lot of their big games in the competition usually reserved for down the road at the Aviva Stadium.

“I think just the way they play, it’s really exciting,” he says of Toulouse.

“They thrive off counter-attack, off turnover ball, you have seen the tries they have scored this season, the off-loading game they have, the pace, the players they have, they are a pretty exciting team to watch.

“This week we are going to have to come up with a good game-plan, especially in defence and be switched and not let them get their offloading game away and not give them cheap turnovers because they will score tries off the back of it.

“We only get to play European Cup games twice every a year in the RDS and last week having a sold-out crowd and this week having a sold-out crowd it is great for the club and the players.

“The supporters, they are always coming out and cheering us on so these are the kinda games you want to play in, growing up watching Leinster paying big RDS games. They are pretty special.”

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