Among the mouth-watering head to heads at the RDS tomorrow will be the clash of two of world rugby’s most exciting backs.
Take a look at Cheslin Kolbe’s scintillating try for Toulouse against Toulon at the end of December and it’s easy to understand why Leinster have been taking a good look at how they can stop the 25-year-old magician.
But equally Toulouse will have been studying Jordan Larmour’s game closely and, with Johnny Sexton expected to miss out, Leinster could do with a some of his sorcery.
A look at his third try for Ireland against Italy in Chicago at the start of November or, from full-back, his brilliant effort against Munster for Leinster last month illustrates his speed of thought, the searing pace and the agility.
It’s why he was rubbing shoulders with some of the stars of the game at the World Rugby player of the year awards in Monte Carlo, having been nominated in the ‘breakthrough’ category.
“Brian Habana, I was chatting to him a bit, Rieko Ioane a bit,” said Larmour, 21. “So it was pretty cool just to be around them. It was a pretty cool place to be.”
But Larmour will be all business come lunchtime tomorrow and the threat of South Africa star Kolbe.
“It’s going to be hands on deck when he has the ball,” acknowledged the Dubliner.
“I suppose he’s slightly similar to me in some aspects, but there are some differences as well.
“He’s pretty good off both feet. He’s quick. If there’s a small gap, he’ll go though it.
“He seems to embarrass defenders so you know he’s going to be a tough man to stop when he gets going or gets in a bit of space. So we’re going to have to all be switched on.”
As Toulouse will have to be when Larmour finds some room to dazzle.
“They’ll probably want to smash you, but that’s the way of it,” Larmour grinned.
“All you can do is go out and just do you best, you’re going to get smashed some of the times but you just get back up, get back on the horse.
“It’s just reacting, going on instinct when you have the ball.
“That’s kind of how I play I don’t really overthink it. I go with my gut and if I ever see a gap, to go for it.
“It’s all important to keep learning, especially with the players and the coaches you have around you and the experience so always keep learning keep growing my knowledge and keep getting better.”
Victory for Leinster would see them take pole position in the battle to top Pool A with one round of fixtures to go.
But Toulouse are well-equipped to leave the champions sweating ahead of their trip to Wasps next week.
“These are the games you want to play in, growing up watching Leinster playing big RDS games – going to them, they’re pretty special,” Larmour commented.
“But the way Toulouse play, really it’s so exciting. They thrive off counter-attack, off turnover ball.
“You’ve seen the tries they have scored this season, the off-loading game they have, the pace, the players they have, they seem a pretty exciting team to watch.
“They’re a dangerous team as well so this week we’re going to have to come up with a good game-plan, especially in defence be switched on and not let them get their off-loading game away – not give them cheap turnovers because they’ll score tries off the back of it”.
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