Hype is no bad thing when the talent is real

“He wouldn’t get too carried away. Each game is a learning experience for him – because you kind of forget how young he is – so he knows that every game he plays is bigger than the previous one. He’ll take advantage of every opportunity but he knows himself there’s stuff to work on.”

The “he” that Garry Ringrose is talking about here is, of course, Jordan Larmour who’s squarely the man of the hour after his man of the match performance in Chicago against Italy on Saturday night.

The word of the day seems to be “hype” and how to avoid it. As I’ve written in these pages before, I think hype has a bad reputation. It’s over-hyped how bad hype is, if you’ll indulge me.

When it comes to a talent like Jordan Larmour, I don’t want him talking himself down. I want some of that hype to creep in and settle in this guy’s gut so he can know just how good he actually can be.

Larmour’s ability to change direction laterally while actually gaining acceleration and overall pace is a remarkable physical and technical gift.

Throw in his monster boot, excellent hands and line choice and you have a player that could light up world rugby for a decade to come, at least. If he takes the field against the All Blacks in a few weeks I don’t want him thinking about “not getting carried away” like a good little robot, I want him thinking about how he’s going to slice Crotty to shreds if he gives him so much as an arsehair’s width to work with.

That ripple of energy that flows through the crowd when a Larmour, a Sweetnam, an Earls or a Conway gets a hold of the ball, they don’t do it because “wow, this guy is really hard working in training and doesn’t get carried away.”

They do it because they know that the guy with the ball in his hands has the capability to make something happen in a way that not everyone possesses. That’s “hype”, folks. That’s expectation. That’s the magic that turns ordinary players into something people remember.

The Irish sporting psyche seems to fidget at the idea of a confident athlete going out onto a field and expressing themselves.

We have to layer athletes in coats of humility lest people start thinking they’re “cocky”. Just look at Simon Zebo for an example in rugby to look at but the samples go on and on in all sports.

I’m not calling for Jordan Larmour to take a Justin Beiber head of hair and dress sense (although that would be cool) I’m just asking – pleading – for the lad to allow himself a fleeting thought that he might just be a future great.

If he is, he’ll work for it to back up the exuberance and put himself in a better position to do from the backfield what the All Blacks (Howlett, Savea and a dozen others), or French (Medard, Clerc) or Springboks (Habana) always managed to do to us. When the big games come around, I want more guys thinking they’re going be a superstar and backing it up then staying humble runners up.

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Tom Savage

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