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Lowe's imminent arrival adds another weapon to Leinster's attacking armoury

Girvan Dempsey says the Kiwi could link up with the province next week.

Lowe had a fine season for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Lowe had a fine season for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Image: Photosport/Bruce Lim/INPHO

THESE ARE HUGELY exciting times for Leinster, not so much because of a satisfying, and encouraging, set of results but the manner in which the province continue to improve week-on-week — Leo Cullen’s side are building up a head of steam.

Saturday’s dismantling of Ulster at a ground on which they had failed to win in five previous visits is just the latest example of this and, in addition, testament to where Leinster are at in the second season under the dual stewardship of Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.

All in all, they’re in a good place heading into the final fixture before the November break and when they return to action towards the end of the month will have an added weapon in their armoury in the form of James Lowe.

The Kiwi, whose commitments with Tasman are now complete, could link up with the province as early as next week and his arrival will only further strengthen Leinster’s strength in depth across an in-form back line.

Lowe enjoyed a sensational season with the Chiefs in Super Rugby and Leinster fans will need no introduction to his talents having emerged as one of the most exciting young wingers in New Zealand over the last few seasons.

His signing is a real coup for Leinster, and his arrival is a timely one, according to Girvan Dempsey, with the international break the perfect opportunity for him to ease into the surroundings.

“We have a week off next week and then go into a rugby training week, which is perfect for him to get into the environment and get to know the lads, and get to know the system and how we play, and leading into the games after the Dragons,” the Leinster backs coach said, who played a significant role in bringing the 25-year-old to the club.

“We [the coaches] would sit down on a fairly regular basis and have a look at succession planning, look at potential players who are available and at where we need to strengthen the squad.

inpho_01220669 Lowe is expected to arrive in Ireland next week. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I caught up with him and met him when I was at the Chiefs two summers ago, just to see him, the way he trained, exceptional, a real X Factor and a real energy for the game.

“He’s got a real big left foot boot, which is a good asset to have in terms of how you exit from your zone, very strong with the ball and I think will adapt and will suit the style that we play the game, and will complement our style.”

While there will be huge anticipation among Leinster fans at the prospect of seeing Lowe, a Maori All Black, line out in blue in the not too distant future, there has been no shortage of excitement over some home-grown talents too with Jordan Larmour standing out at the weekend.

The Ireland U20 international is much-talked about as a prodigious talent and has enjoyed a breakthrough season so far having featured five times already this term, but produced the moment of magic everybody was waiting for at Kingspan Stadium.

Having come on for Noel Reid in the opening exchanges, Larmour slotted into Leinster’s midfield and set the game alight with a sensational individual try which demonstrated just how devastating he can be with ball in hand.

Having seen the former St Andrew’s College pupil come up through the Leinster ranks, Dempsey wasn’t surprised with what he saw.

“I thought Jordan handled it extremely well,” Dempsey says of the 20-year-old’s performance in Belfast. “He’d been doing a lot of work in the back three during the week, got a few reps in midfield as he was aware he was covering that as well. But to be called upon so early, and to adapt.

“Jordan, with ball in hand, is exceptional, he’s lightning on his feet, and his confidence is in a really good place. It’s good when all players feel they’re under a bit of pressure.

“He’s got massive X Factor, but it’s about learning in terms of positional play in the back three, defensive understanding, attacking under a bit more pressure in the centre channel, it’s trying to grow him, challenge him and put him in positions where he’s got to make decisions.

“He’ll make mistake like all players do, but it’s about getting him into those situations, learning from them so next time it happens, he’s got more confidence and he’s in a better position. But I think we’ve seen growth from him, there’s always a massive expectation on a player who is high profile and I think you saw at the weekend he’s definitely in the right mode.”

Leinster’s Jordan Larmour runs in to score a try from Ulster’s Aaron Cairns Jordan Larmour produced a moment of magic in Belfast on Saturday. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Larmour is just one of countless examples, but Leinster’s academy system and capacity to produce talented young players is remarkable. Dempsey puts that down to the intensity in training he sees every day.

“The guys are going really well on the training field and that’s the thing. They’re all getting the reps and the time on the field. The intensity of training is at level where they’re able to adapt once they’re called upon.

“They feel confident and match ready from that point of view and the coaches try and spend some time with them to make sure they’re clear in what we’re trying to do. They’re not going in with a lot of clutter in their mind, they’re going in to express themselves.

“It’s continual growth within all the players, I think they’ve been excellent. You look back on last season and it’s been said and we’ve highlighted, it was almost. We’ve identified that and we know we can’t be complacent in how we’re building through. Nothing is won at this stage of this season and we want to make sure we’re in the right place.”

Even at this early stage of the season, they’re heading in the right direction.

Friday sees Leinster return to Scotstoun two weeks after they out-muscled and out-played Glasgow with a clinical Champions Cup performance but the Warriors are unbeaten in the Pro14 so far with seven wins from seven.

Without as many as 18 internationals for the round eight clash, Dempsey knows this will be an entirely different challenge.

“Glasgow are very dangerous,” he added. “They’re the only unbeaten side in the Pro14 at the moment. I think they’ve only conceded nine tries in the league. They’re scoring on average 30-plus points at home in Scotstoun – the pitch suits them. Defensively we’re going to have to be on point.

“We have to make sure that when we get the opportunities that we take our points. It’s going to be a tough challenge but we want to finish off this block on a high.”

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