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'I understand that I'm more expendable... you want to be selfless towards the team'

James Lowe says he has to accept the ‘non-European’ rule and work for his Leinster team-mates.

IT’S QUICKLY BECOMING hard to fathom that Leinster might have to leave James Lowe out of their team again.

The Kiwi wing missed out on the Heineken Champions Cup final win over Racing 92 last season due to the oft-mentioned and oft-bemoaned ‘non-European’ rule that means Leinster can only pick two of Lowe, Scott Fardy and Jamison Gibson-Park on matchdays.

Leinsters James Lowe Lowe was man of the match against Wasps. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The same ruling applies to the Guinness Pro14 but Lowe was selected for last season’s final in that competition, scoring a try – as he tends to do.

With his record now standing at 16 tries in 18 games, and his influence extending some distance beyond those five-pointers, it’s going to be difficult for Leo Cullen and his coaching staff not to pick Lowe as one of their two moving forward.

The man himself, an affable character, insists he is happy to do whatever is best for Leinster, particularly given their options out wide.

“Everyone wants to play in the big games, everyone wants to play in every game that they are available for selection, but you’ve also got to understand that in my position there’s a lot of depth,” said Lowe after Friday’s 52-3 win against Wasps, in which he scored twice.

“Scott has played 30 or 40 international Test matches. When he comes on he brings is a lot of mongrel. He does his job really well, he’s a leader. He’s 30-odd-years-old, he’s bald but he’s definitely a leader in the team.

“And Jamison really pushes Luke [McGrath] for that number one spot [at scrum-half].

“I understand that I’m more expendable but it’s nice to know that I am not getting picked because of a rule. It’s not that I’m not getting picked because I’m not good enough.

“I know it’s probably the toughest conversation Leo has to have. He’s like ‘Ah, crap, this one again,’ but we all take it on the chin and really understand. We’ve got one more year, Jamo will be qualified in 12 months’ time. 

Luke McGrath celebrates scoring their fourth try with Josh van der Flier and James Lowe 12/10/2018 Lowe celebrates with try-scorer Luke McGrath. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It is what it is – it’s water under the bridge.”

It must be harder than that to accept for a competitive beast like Lowe, but he says he does his best to remember Leinster’s now-retired ex-captain as he works hard for the collective.

“As soon as it stops becoming about yourself… that’s something that Isa [Nacewa] really drove,” said Lowe.

“He was the most selfless person you could ever have thought of. If you were moving house, he was the first one there. You wouldn’t even have to ask and he’d be there!

“Man, it is what it is. Fergus [McFadden] is playing bloody awesome, Jordo [Jordan Larmour] is playing awesome. Dave Kearney, I heard he played bloody well for the As in their win over Munster. You know, we’ve got outside backs to burn and I understand.

“They won a European Cup without me and I was bloody stoked for the day.

“It doesn’t bother me, I had a heck of a day in Bilbao man. They should have given me a camera for that… it was the best day of my life, you know?”

– Originally published 07.58, 15 October

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Murray Kinsella

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