Ireland's Kiwi wing prepares to tackle the England 'beast'
SPOTLIGHT: James Lowe made a try-scoring debut for Ireland in the victory over Wales but he says a tougher challenge awaits in Saturday’s Nations Cup clash with England as they are a “completely different beast”.
The 28-year-old New Zealand-born wing will definitely be occupying England minds as he lived up to his pre-match hype against an out-of-form Welsh side.
Lowe provided an element of unpredictability to the Irish backline which they have been lacking and was equally strong in defence.
However, as refreshingly direct in speaking as he is on the pitch, Lowe is expecting a tougher day at the office at Twickenham even if it is behind closed doors.
“This is going to be a completely different beast,” he said at a press conference on Monday.
“Don’t get me wrong, Wales are obviously a very strong international team but haven’t had the form of late.
“But this is a whole new beast. To play England at Twickenham… it’s huge.
“Emotionally, physically and mentally if we get all our ducks in a row I can’t see why we can’t go over there and knock them over.”
Ireland, though, will be without captain and playmaker Johnny Sexton who has been ruled out with a hamstring problem.
Lowe, who has previously referred to his Leinster teammate Sexton as the ‘bad cop’ due to his outspoken criticism of underperforming teammates, said the 35-year-old flyhalf would still make his presence felt during the week.
“Who?” replied Lowe, joking about whether Ireland would miss Sexton.
“We’re grand. He didn’t die, he’s still in the building, he’s going to be barking at us all week as he always does but that’s because he really cares.
“He’s so emotional about this team.”
‘Chirp at him’
Lowe, who was blooded by Ireland head coach Andy Farrell as soon as he qualified under the three-year residency rule, said he would be listening closely to any advice Sexton had to offer.
“Trust me, he’ll be everywhere around the camp this week to make sure we all know our stuff,” he said.
“Obviously he’s been there and done it so he’s a man that knows how to do it, so I’ll definitely be in his ear trying to get a few nuggets of gold, that’s for sure.”
Lowe came close earlier in his career to being capped by New Zealand in a rare Test against Samoa but had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury.
He admits having at last made the step up to Test level and being amongst seasoned international players “there is an eerie tension”.
Lowe showed he would not be intimidated at Test level when he was shoved in the back early on in the Wales match and gave as good as he got.
“I reckon I’ve got a target on my back,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s going on but you’ve got to front foot that sort of stuff right from the get go.
“When you get a chance to really get physical with ball in hand or in the tackle, that’s when you show up.
“But at the end of the day you don’t get to this level without being a good person, first and foremost.”
He says joining up with players from Leinster’s great rivals Munster with the national squad also takes adapting to.
“You’d speak to ‘Sexto’ and he’d be like, ‘look, Peter O’Mahony is one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet, wait until you get to meet him’,” said Lowe.
“But then you play against him and, man, I just want to run over him. I just want to chirp at him.
“But it is only because he is wearing a red jersey and in fact he is a really good bloke.”