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Lowe prepared to give his all for Ireland but conflicted by 'stupid' and 'weird' residency rule

The Leinster wing also revealed how close he was to making his All Blacks debut in 2015.

JAMES LOWE HAS revealed shoulder surgery put paid to his dream of representing the All Blacks in 2015, but says he wouldn’t ‘leave people wondering’ as to his commitment should he earn international selection by Andy Farrell’s Ireland upon his eligibility in 2020.

The Leinster wing described rugby’s three-year residency rule as “stupid” and admitted he still finds the idea of his lining out in Irish green to be “a weird prospect”, but assured fans at The42′s Rugby World Cup preview event on Thursday night that he would give 100% for his adopted country if or when the call-up arises.

“If I look at it, it’s a stupid rule, isn’t it? Like… I could dig myself a big hole here, obviously,” Lowe began to laughs at Liberty Hall Theatre.

I got to a stage in my career where I was down to play a Test match [for the All Blacks] against Samoa in Samoa but I had to get shoulder surgery. So instead of me going, George Moala went over and he made his Test debut. So when I think about it like that, like if I hadn’t hurt my shoulder… It was pretty bad, I rehabbed it for six weeks and got back and was able to play, but I even met with the All Blacks coaches and they were like, ‘We don’t want to play you in your Test debut when you’re not at a hundred per cent. And you don’t want to do that either.’

“So it’s like these fine margins that managed to get me here (to Ireland). Like, yeah, I would love to play international rugby, don’t get me wrong. And it would be such a privilege — such an honour — to represent Ireland. That would be awesome. Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to see if that’s going to happen.

But it’s a weird rule, eh? Like, three years? It’s [moving] up to five which is probably more reasonable in a way. But it’s weird that I could be Irish, isn’t it? Like, it is weird.

Lowe explained that his only contact with soon-to-be Ireland head coach Farrell came at the end of last season when Farrell drove up alongside him on a rainy day in Dublin and offered him a lift to a local “watering hole”, but claimed no phone numbers were exchanged.

He also shed further light on his move from New Zealand to Dublin, and how having agonisingly missed out on an All Blacks cap, he decided that it was time to park his lifelong dream in search of opportunity.

“Literally, at the time when this [Leinster] contract came through, I was in a place called Taranaki which is midway down the North Island — beautiful part of the country,” said the 27-year-old. “And I was at a team-building exercise and I had Brad Weber next to me. We were on this coal track — you could do this thing where you could hop in a coal mine, in a cart, and there’s pedals and you’d pedal your way down.

“I was literally on that, and I got this email from my agent. And I was like, ‘An offer’s come through’, and I showed Brad and he was like, ‘Holy heck!’ Because Brad Weber is a very good friend of mine but he was in the exact same position where he was on the fringe [of All Black contention], and we were supposed to make our debut together against Samoa. Obviously, I couldn’t because I had to get surgery, but he made his debut then.

“I would have been in the exact same boat as him where I was given the opportunity, I would have been capped once and then I would have been battling hard every single year, trying to perform the best that I can just so I could hopefully sit on the bench for a couple of caps, you know?

When you put it into perspective like that, like… I would have been happy. Obviously, it was a dream for me to play for the All Blacks, you know, being a kid from New Zealand. But then you get to a stage in your life where you’ve got to sometimes park dreams and think of opportunity.

chiefs-v-highlanders-fmg-stadium Lowe in action for the Chiefs in 2016. Source: Ross Setford

“And this opportunity came in the weirdest of places. I was dripping sweat in this coal cart, pedalling away and my phone starts going mental. And I’m sitting there with Brad Weber in the same boat as me, and he’s going, ‘Man, I wish I got offered this.’

“It’s so weird how it all came about.

“Then I look at it from a perspective of potentially representing Ireland which is… Like, I’d do my absolute best if I was given the opportunity. And I understand that to a lot of loyalists it’s a weird prospect. To me, it’s a weird prospect.

“We sat in a pub in Greece watching the Cricket World Cup”, Lowe added with a nod toward fellow guest Scott Fardy, “and I’m still supporting New Zealand but I’m like, ‘Am I allowed support New Zealand?’ Ireland weren’t there, so…

Like I said, it’s very confusing but if the opportunity does come to represent Ireland — it’s still a long way away — but if I was given the opportunity, I’d do it full-heartedly. I wouldn’t leave people wondering if I was giving it my all. It’d be 100% for Ireland.

The full Rugby World Cup preview show with Lowe and Scott Fardy is available in podcast form for The42 members. To become a member, sign up here.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Bernard Jackman make the case for Ireland winning… and tanking at the Rugby World Cup, as we gear up for Wales again: 


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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