Mate against mate: Why Irish Kiwi wing is desperate to face All Blacks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Nov 2021, 3:36PM
Former Māori All Black James Lowe on the burst for Ireland against Wales. (Photo/Photosport)
Former Māori All Black James Lowe on the burst for Ireland against Wales. (Photo/Photosport)

Mate against mate: Why Irish Kiwi wing is desperate to face All Blacks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Nov 2021, 3:36PM

James Lowe says he will face some of his "closest friends" if he makes the Irish side to play the All Blacks on Sunday morning. 

Ireland's coach Andy Farrell praised the improvements in Lowe's game following his recall against Japan. 

And the 29-year-old Lowe, a Māori All Black before joining Leinster in 2017, is relishing the chance to step out against his native land. 

"Some of my best friends are starters in that All Blacks team," said Lowe, who played for Tasman and the Chiefs Super Rugby side. 

Lowe's good mates included Chiefs Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Samisoni Taukei'aho and Brodie Retallick. He also attended Nelson College with Ethan Blackadder and David Havili and has been a teammate of Finlay Christie and Will Jordan. 

"I went to school with two or three of them, I played with a few of them when they were younger, and now they speak for themselves in the 15," said Lowe. 

"The list goes on with the amount of people that helped me become a player through playing with them. And mate, I can't wait for next weekend. 

"To have the opportunity now to potentially represent Ireland against them is something that is a challenge I knew was around the corner. I can't wait to put my best foot forward." 

Lowe, who qualified for Ireland through residency, was axed by Farrell for the Six Nations game against England, the coach saying he needed "a little bit of a wake-up call" after defensive errors. 

The 105kg outside back scored a try in the 60-5 demolition job on Japan when Ireland kicked off the new season's campaign in Dublin last weekend. 

"He went away and understood how he needed to prepare for international rugby - his preparation is through the roof in comparison to what it was before," Farrell said. 

"He's learned the hard way, there's a few things that he needs to get better from Saturday as well but his attitude is in the right place and I'm sure that will happen. 

"He's not a tidy player but neither do we want our players to be tidy players. He finds a way into the game, he's in great nick, he's lost a bit of weight and is fit." 

The Ireland squad includes Lowe's fellow Kiwi backs Jamison Gibson-Park and Bundee Aki while Joey Carbery had a Northland childhood.