9 Nov 2021

Lowe keen to play against All Blacks

9:12 am on 9 November 2021

Ireland wing James Lowe is relishing the prospect of playing against some of his closest friends in this weekend's game against his native New Zealand.

James Lowe playing for Ireland against Japan 2021.

James Lowe playing for Ireland against Japan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Lowe, 29, celebrated his international recall by scoring the opening try as Ireland thrashed Japan 60-5 in last weekend's autumn opener in Dublin.

The former Maori All Blacks player now hopes to retain his starting place for this weekend's Aviva Stadium game.

"Some of my best friends are starters in that All Blacks team," said Lowe.

Lowe enjoyed close relationships with the likes of Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Samisoni Taukei'aho and Brodie Retallick, while he, David Havili and Ethan Blackadder each attended Nelson College.

The former Tasman and Chiefs back also previously played alongside Finlay Christie and Will Jordan.

"I went to school with two or three of them, I played with a few of them when they were younger, and now they speak for themselves in the 15," added the Leinster wing.

"The list goes on with the amount of people that helped me become a player through playing with them. And, mate, I can't wait for next weekend.

"To have the opportunity now to potentially represent Ireland against them is something that is a challenge I knew was around the corner and a challenge that I can't wait to put my best foot forward for."

Lowe is among a trio of New Zealand-born players in Ireland's current squad, with his Leinster team-mate Jamison Gibson-Park and Connacht centre Bundee Aki also having started against Japan at the weekend.

James Lowe playing for New Zealand Schools in 2010.

James Lowe playing for NZ School in 2010 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"The performance (against Japan) was good but it's all about next weekend now," added the Ireland wing.

"In terms of the measuring stick, New Zealand have been at the top of the pecking order for years."

The Leinster man qualified for his adopted nation last autumn through residency rules but a number of defensive errors led to him being dropped for Ireland's final Six Nations win over England before Andy Farrell opted to recall him for the contest with Japan.

After Saturday's impressive Irish win, Farrell admitted that Lowe had "had a little bit of a wake-up call".

"He went away and understood how he needed to prepare for international rugby, his preparation is through the roof in comparison to what it was before," said Farrell.

"He's learned the hard way, there's a few things that he needs to get better from Saturday as well but his attitude is in the right place and I'm sure that will happen.

"He's not a tidy player but neither do we want our players to be tidy players. He finds a way into the game, he's in great nick, he's lost a bit of weight and is fit."

Lowe left New Zealand in 2017 and has played for Leinster ever since.