His brain engages, his dancing feet respond and the end result is another sprinkling of unforgettable magic.
Jordan Larmour is making a habit of this. On Friday, he got a phone call from his parents to ask if he wanted to meet for a coffee. Confusion reigned as had thought they were back home in Dublin but instead, Ian and Anne had made the trip to Chicago to surprise their son.
Their decision proved to be as inspiring as Larmour’s sensational performance on Saturday but in reality, they were never going to miss out on seeing him make his first start for Ireland.
Had the 21-year-old not produced such a mesmerising display, this is a victory that would have been filed away as a non-event.
As it was, however, Larmour’s hat-trick as well as a devastating run to create a try for Luke McGrath, ensured that the 35,051 inside Soldier Field got bang for their buck.
By the time he had crossed the whitewash in the dying stages for a third time, the crowd rose in recognition of a truly special talent who has the world at those lightning-quick feet.
The thing about Larmour now is that his team-mates are not surprised by anything he does any more because he does it every day behind closed doors in training.
As poor as Italy were, and it must be said they were awful at times, there are not many defenders who can live with the former St Andrew’s student when he gets any kind of space.
With Rob Kearney struggling with a shoulder injury, Larmour is in pole position to start at full-back against Argentina on Saturday, and he can expect to be targeted by the Pumas.
Nothing fazes the youngster, however, and with his confidence sky high, he is ready to meet the challenge head on.
“I suppose I will keep my head down, keep trying to get better,” he said modestly. “I don’t really listen to the hype or anything like that. People are always going to build you up to knock you down.
“I have got a pretty good family around me, good friends who keep me grounded. I think I am a pretty humble guy, so I don’t really have any problems trying to stay grounded. At times, it was just another day for me.”
Ireland have rarely produced a player with such devastating footwork as Larmour and he insists that it just comes naturally to him.
There is a realisation on his part that he is nowhere near the finished product just yet, which merely heightens the expectation on his young shoulders.
“It is kind of instinct to be honest,” Larmour explained of his footwork.
“You don’t really over-think it, it’s just a case of, if you see a bit of space, you see if I can move them (feet) and throw them (defenders) off.
“I think the more space you have the harder it is to defend. I got caught against Toulouse one-on-one, so on the other side of the ball I need to get better and that is something I am working on in camp.”
For Schmidt, it is about keeping the youngster’s happy feet on the ground, yet given Larmour’s humble nature, one suspects that will not be an issue.
“Jordan knew that there was a window of opportunity so he wanted to open it reasonably wide and then crawl through it for three tries, so he did that pretty well,” Schmidt said.
“He just has a contagious enthusiasm on the pitch, which is great. And in behind what you see on the pitch he works really hard, which is really positive as well. Some of the bits of the game that aren’t quite as visible he does a really good job of.
“They (Italy) slipped off a fair few tackles at the end and I wouldn’t envisage the Argentinians slipping off some of those tackles, they defend really well. They chase the chance really well, particularly the guys coming out of the midfield.
“So, it’s something that you don’t really talk about ceilings. You talk about incrementally growing and so far he’s incrementally taken a step each time that we’ve asked him to really.”
As for what Larmour’s best position is, he doesn’t mind as long as he is in the team, with Schmidt admitting that he is still figuring it out.
“That’s a really good question because we’re still trying to work it out. I’m not sure.
“I think the freedom he gets at full-back is quite neat because he can play either side of the pitch. But you saw him on the wing at the end and if we can create a bit of space for him he’s incredibly dangerous.
“In the first half when he opened them up and sort of handed that ball off to Luke McGrath for the try he demonstrated he does both really well. So that’s one of the conundrums for us.”
Larmour managed 245 metres in the 12 runs that he made, while he also beat 12 defenders, including four for the third try, which was the pick of the bunch.
“I was wrecked,” he laughed.
“I knew there was about ten seconds left, and I had started cramping up but John Cooney was the one who was running across so I dropped under and saw a little gap and just went for it. So yeah, I was pretty tired after that one.”
Having made such a positive impact in the first of four games this month, Larmour now has his sights set on toppling New Zealand for the first time on home soil and then world domination in Japan.
“Long-term, we want to be World Cup champions,” he added.
“But there is a good bit of rugby to be played. There are three more huge games coming up this month. But the sky is the limit for this team.
“Looking to the All Blacks, no one is scared of them, no one is afraid of them. They are a quality team. So are we. We just need to turn up on the day and we can turn them over.”
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