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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Leinster hopeful Lowe will return for next block of pre-season training

The 28-year-old is currently back in New Zealand for personal reasons.

LEINSTER ARE NOT putting a timeline on James Lowe’s return to Ireland for pre-season training, with the wing currently back home in New Zealand for personal reasons.

The province are happy for Lowe to take the time he needs in New Zealand before returning to Ireland to join their pre-season training.

The 28-year-old recently confirmed he signed a new three-year deal with Leinster, underlining his commitment to Irish rugby.

james-lowe-runs-in-a-try Lowe is currently in New Zealand. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Leinster will go on a two-week break from pre-season training tomorrow, having completed three weeks at their base in UCD.

While Leo Cullen and co. are hopeful that Lowe will be back for their return to training on Monday 27 July but are not pressuring Lowe to adhere to a specific date.

His delayed start to pre-season could mean Lowe missing out on one or more of the inter-provincial Pro14 fixtures planned for August but Leinster are understood to be comfortable with that possible scenario.

“He is back in New Zealand because of personal reasons and hopefully he will come back and be able to join the group with all the steps and precautions that he has to take and then make sure he gets match fit,” said assistant coach Felipe Contepomi yesterday.

“We will have to assess him when he comes back. Hopefully he will be with us training in the next block.”

Lowe qualifies to play for Ireland at the start of November and will hope to make his debut for Andy Farrell’s team during the autumn Test window.

His record of 27 tries in 43 starts for Leinster underlines the former Chiefs man’s attacking prowess, while Contepomi says Lowe has made big defensive improvements since first arriving in 2017.

“Definitely, he has big moments in every game because he is a player for big moments,” said Contepomi.

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“In terms of defence, he has been making a great effort to adapt to our system. It is hard when you come from a very ingrained system like in New Zealand. New Zealand teams have changed the last year or two, the way they are defending, but they were using the wingers to defend halfway and always waiting for the inside guy to come and just drift.

“We are a different sort of defence. Yes, he found it challenging at the beginning but he made great, great progress and he is getting better.

“Apart from that, then it is about Andy Farrell to assess if it is good or not, if it suits their game plan. There are a lot of very good wingers at work here in Ireland.”

fergus-mcfadden-and-rob-kearney-arrive McFadden and Kearney have extended their stays with Leinster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Leinster have retained Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney on short-term deals through until October as they look to finish out the 2019/20 season successfully.

That pair may be more likely to feature on the pitch if Lowe’s return to playing is delayed and Contepomi also underlined the value they bring to younger players in the squad.

McFadden will retire from pro rugby at the end of the 2019/20 campaign. Kearney had hoped to play on after leaving Leinster but his plans are unclear.

“They have been unbelievable servants for Leinster,” said Contepomi. “For us as a team they are massive. They can add a lot. To start with, experience.

“For the young guys to play beside Rob and Ferg and train beside them is unbelievable. These are guys who have been there for 15 years and they know Leinster and the system from the ground up.

“They know the mentality, the culture and it is how they drive that legacy and pass it on. It is great to have them for the start and end of this season.”

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Murray Kinsella

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