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'Everyone wants to be Isa... he's a god amongst men' - James Lowe

Leinster want to send their captain off in style with another trophy this weekend.

“AW, IT DOESN’T matter who is in front of me.

“You’ve still gotta run over them.”

James Lowe’s performances show many signs of analytical detail and an intelligent thought process, but Leinster’s Kiwi wing doesn’t like to complicate things in his post-match analysis with the media.

Whether it’s Simon Zebo or Andrew Conway in front of him – Lowe says both are “great players” – the 25-year-old is looking for the same outcome.

James Lowe offloads to Jack Conan to set up their first try Lowe sets up Jack Conan's try against Munster. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He steamrolled Zebo during the build-up to Jack Conan’s try in Leinster’s 16-15 win over Munster in the Guinness Pro14 semi-final at the RDS on Saturday, before beating the fullback a second time just a couple of phases later.

Lowe stumbled after stepping and fending Zebo, but he still found the skill to switch the ball to his right-hand side and offload sublimely to the supporting Conan to score.

“I’m pretty knackered, man,” said Lowe with a laugh afterwards. “I’m sorry fellas. I don’t get to play often.”

Lowe has started 12 games since joining Leinster last November, with his nine tries making him a firm fan favourite during that time.

But the exciting wide man missed out on two of the biggest fixtures of the province’s campaign – the Champions Cup semi-final and final – due to EPCR’s limit of two non-European players in a matchday squad.

“I’ve still got a medal from it,” said Lowe of missing the Bilbao final. “I’ve played in a few finals and never won one so I think maybe just don’t play me in the final, eh?

“Man, I’m happy. We’re in line for another trophy next week. We ground out a good win this week and last week as well. We were on Everest last week, back again this week and next week we are going to be on Everest again.”

The non-European players rule applies to the Pro14 but Kiwi scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park was the man to miss out against Munster and it would be a surprise if Leinster opt to go into Saturday’s final against the Scarlets without Lowe.

Leinster players celebrate winning a last minute penalty Leinster celebrate their win over Munster. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He is part of a group that feels their goals are only half fulfilled.

“We haven’t even done anything this year yet,” said Lowe. “Man, no team has ever done the double: won Europe and then won their provincial title, if you like.


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“It’s something that we talked about but it just shows how mentally tough some of these guys are to play 160 minutes of finals footy. Some of them are going to go 240 minutes of finals footy. They are there to grind it out.

“They know exactly what is required. We know what’s coming and we have the plan. It is a very special group of men in that changing room and unfortunately one of Leinster’s best is going to leave us. So the stars are aligned.

“This was his last game at the RDS and the next one will be his last game at the Aviva. Everything is to play for.”

The man Lowe is referring to here is, of course, the retiring captain Isa Nacewa.

Jordi Murphy has been saying farewell to the province in seriously impressive fashion with a string of excellent performances before his move to Ulster this summer, and his team-mates insisted on him being part of the Champions Cup trophy lifting.

There are other squad members leaving this summer too, but sending Nacewa off in style is among the chief motivations for Leinster.

Isa Nacewa is cheered off the pitch by teammates Nacewa is set to retire after this weekend. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It’s special here at the moment, we’ve talked about things that we can try to connect back to,” said Lowe.

“Rugby is bigger than the 80 minutes that you play on Saturday, there’s a lot of spokes in the wheel that makes us the team that we need to be.

“Everyone wants to be Isa, his name gets shouted every time he runs out on to that field. If you want to do it for anyone, you want to do it for him.

“He’s our culture at the moment, he’s our talisman. I mean, he’s got one leg at the moment and he still trains every week, still turns up. He doesn’t have to play week in, week out but when he does play he’s huge.

“He’s the boss. He’s pretty unlucky not to be an All Black, eh? Leinster is pretty lucky to have had him for so long.

“I thought he retired and came back, coached and then they got two more years out of him so he’s a god amongst men.”

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Murray Kinsella

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