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Dublin: 12°C Monday 19 October 2020

'The opportunity of a lifetime came up in one of the coolest cities in the world'

James Lowe speaks about his decision to join Leinster on a three-year deal.

Murray Kinsella reports from Rotorua

ISA NACEWA RATES him as one of the best wings in world rugby and those who have been tracking the Chiefs in Super Rugby in recent years probably won’t be arguing.

James Lowe is about as exciting a signing as Leinster fans could have imagined, and the feeling is reciprocated.

James Lowe Lowe has been in sensational form. Source: Photosport/Bruce Lim/INPHO

The 24-year-old, who starts at fullback for the Māori All Blacks against the Lions tomorrow [KO 8.35am Irish time, Sky Sports], is thrilled to be joining the Irish province next season.

His form in Super Rugby this year has been scintillating, with 11 tries in 13 games as well as a host of assists, linebreaks and defenders beaten, and the Nelson native will be keen to show his attacking class once again in Rotorua on Saturday.

Lowe is the kind of player that Kiwis must despair at losing – good enough to be considered in the All Blacks mix, but not quite able to force his way into Steve Hansen’s squad and earn Test caps.

That naturally played a part in his decision to leave New Zealand after he completes the Mitre 10 Cup campaign with native province Tasman Makos.

But Lowe hasn’t just sold himself to the highest bidder. He did his research on all options and after Leinster enquired, he got in touch with two old mates.

“It sort of came around quite quick,” said Lowe in Rotorua this week ahead of the Māori fixture. “When you’re looking at going overseas you have to do your homework and all the homework I did, everything came back positive.

“I’ve got two friends over there in Hayden Triggs and Jamison Gibson-Park, I spoke to both of them and they spoke very highly of the club, how professional it was and what a challenging environment it is.”

Duncan Williams and James Lowe Lowe played against Munster at Thomond Park back in November. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Triggs and Gibson-Park are both former Māori All Blacks who have thoroughly enjoyed their moves to Leinster, although the lock retired at the end of the current campaign.

Scrum-half Gibson-Park could qualify to play for Ireland through three years of residency, while Lowe is now in the same bracket, having signed on a three-year contract. The back three flyer will be in Ireland before World Rugby’s new five-year residency requirements kick in, so he could play for Ireland by 2020.

However, that is not in Lowe’s thoughts at present, as he simply looks forward to joining one of Europe’s biggest clubs and moving to one of Europe’s most famous cities.

That’s really what I’m looking for, I feel like I’ve got more to give back to the game still being relatively young and the opportunity of a lifetime came up in one of the coolest cities in the world,” said Lowe. “You can’t turn that down.

“Everyone has said that there’s so much going on in Dublin, so I am really looking forward to it, to challenging myself in a new environment and learning a lot about myself and travelling the world.”

Lowe is certain to add greatly to Leinster’s efforts on the pitch from next season, but he will have major value off it too.

The former Nelson College student – who came through the club game with Waimea Old Boys – rather than with New Zealand’s underage rep sides – has been a key part of the Chief’s off-field culture and is well regarded as a highly-positive influence among the group.

James Lowe Lowe is a positive influence on his team-mates. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

His grit was demonstrated early in his life, when he left was bedridden and in deep pain after being struck by rheumatoid arthritis as a teenager, as he previously told SKY Sport NZ.

Lowe fought through the toughest times and worked his way back onto the rugby pitch, eventually debuting for Tasman in 2012 and getting picked up by the Chiefs in 2014.

He has played for the Waikato-based franchise 50 times in Super Rugby and has 25 tries to his name in that time, while he has been equally prolific for the Makos in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Lowe is still affected by rheumatoid arthritis and though he controls the condition with weekly injections and painkillers, it will continue to be a part of his life.

Having been through some of the most testing times imaginable, Lowe naturally appreciates everything his rugby career gives him.

Look out for his smile as he wears the Māori All Blacks’ 15 shirt tomorrow and look out for it when he lines out in Leinster’s blue next season.

James Lowe scores a try Leinster fans will look forward to a few Lowe special. Source: Photosport/Bruce Lim/INPHO

Lowe is likely to bring a smile or two to Leinster fans’ faces, because he is determined to enjoy every second of what lies ahead.

“If I’m lucky, I’ve got 10 years left in this game and I want to make the most of it.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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