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'It’s not just James. There’s a host of players we had difficult conversations with'

Kiwi wing James Lowe has missed out on making Leinster’s squad for the Champions Cup final.
May 11th 2018, 3:00 PM 36,550 48

Murray Kinsella reports from San Mamés, Bilbao

JAMES LOWE IS as positive a character as you could come across but the Kiwi wing must have felt major dejection this week as it became clear that Leinster would opt to leave him out of their squad for the Champions Cup final.

As has been an issue throughout the season, Leo Cullen was limited to using only two of Lowe, Scott Fardy and Jamison Gibson-Park for tomorrow’s clash with Racing 92 on account of EPCR’s rule around ‘non-European players’.

James Lowe James Lowe misses out on the Champions Cup final. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Lowe missed out on the semi-final win over Scarlets as Gibson-Park started at scrum-half in Luke McGrath’s absence and the integral Fardy continued in Leinster’s back row.

McGrath is back from an ankle injury for tomorrow’s clash in Bilbao, but there remains a lingering concern over his ankle and Cullen has decided to go for the comfort of having Gibson-Park on the bench.

With Fardy a key man up front for tomorrow, it means that Lowe misses out again.

“There are a lot of different factors,” said head coach Cullen of the decision after Leinster’s captain’s run at San Mamés stadium.

I thought Jamison did very well in the semi-final against Scarlets. In many ways, he’s unlucky not to start this game.

“Scott’s come and in he’d done really well, he’s been a really good addition to the forwards. He’s a good leader in the group.

“It’s not an easy decision. As we’ve talked about during the season, it adds a bit of complication but we felt those two guys have done well and we think they will do the job for us tomorrow.”

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Leo Cullen Cullen during Leinster's captain's run today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Asked how Lowe had handled the disappointment of missing out, Cullen indicated that the former Chiefs wing is not the only one in that camp.

“It’s not just James,” said Cullen. “There’s a whole host of players that we had difficult conversations with this week. We have used 37 players in the eight [Champions Cup] games so far and in the PRO14 we have used 55 players.

“So, it takes a huge amount to get to this stage.

“But the players have fought hard for each other this year. With that competitive environment, there is always going to be people who miss out. There are guys who travelled with the squad here who won’t get to play tomorrow.

“We are actually in another competition as well, the British and Irish Cup. They play the final tomorrow over in Ealing. So it has been a really competitive group this year and that is what we will need again tomorrow.”

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Murray Kinsella

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