James Lowe on facing the All Blacks: It's a bit weird

James Lowe on facing the All Blacks: It's a bit weird

Ireland wing James Lowe admits it was "a bit weird" playing against his country of birth, New Zealand, earlier this year.

Ireland wing James Lowe admits it was "a bit weird" playing against his country of birth, New Zealand, earlier this year.

Lowe grew up in New Zealand and rose through the ranks at Tasman Mako, earning himself a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs, who he would go on to represent on more than 50 occasions.

The speedster signed for Leinster in 2017 and qualified to represent Ireland in 2020 through the three-year residency rule impressing on the Test stage early in his career at the highest level.

Lowe found himself in a unique situation where he was playing for a different country against many friends and former teammates that, included facing the haka.

"I guess traditionally you are just trying to look people in the eye," Lowe told Rugby Pass' Rugby Roots.

"It's setting down a marker, it's preparation for what's to come. It was an amazing experience, I didn't look at anyone specifically in the eye. It's a weird thing because you are trying to catch people's eyes but everyone is just looking straight ahead.

"The photos after were amazing, you see them in their formation and us standing there. Jack Conan had a big ole grin on his face before performing absolutely outstanding.

"I just stood there with a blank face expression and took it all in for what it was. I didn't think I'd face it once and I've got it four times so far."

As expected, the All Blacks were well prepared to give Lowe a hard time through a couple of verbal arrows at the Leinster man.

"The whole week was a bit weird because I had so many friends in the opposition team who I knew I was about to try and kick the s*** out of," he said.

"I knew there was going to be a bit of, not bitterness towards me, but there was going to be a little bit of chirping and things on their side. But that's sport I understood that was coming. There was no malice in it, but it was good to get one up on them that's for sure."

Lowe claims veteran Brodie Retallick led the charge with the chirping, with hooker Dane Coles never far behind.

"There's the usual suspects like Brodie Retallick, he is surprisingly [a big talker]," Lowe said.

"In fairness, I know him as Guzzler, he's a friend of mine I knew it was coming but when he was starting to go at someone like Garry Ringrose, I was like "mate, Garry is one of the nicest guys, please try and pick on someone else".

"Dane Coles obviously, annoying as s***. David Havili I went to school with, Ethan Blackadder I went to school with, Finlay Christie I played a lot of rugby with, it's all those boys.

"It's the digs on the ground you know you are going to get. I knew it was coming."

Lowe has come under fire in the past for his defensive game but produced a remarkable bit of defending to keep the lightning-fast Rieko Ioane at bay in what was a crucial play.

"It was like someone had written a script, for something like that to happen," Lowe said.

"It's one of things that almost happened in slo-mo, I saw it happening before me. The break off the base, Peter O'Mahony missing a tackle, an offload, David Havili goes through the gap.

"I had to close down a fair amount of space, pretty quickly to try and get Rieko because heâ™s absolutely electric. I saw the pass come out of Daveyâ™s hand and closed my eyes and hit him.

"Fortunately enough, Pete got over the ball and got the turnover. Joey kicked the three and that gave us a little bit of a cushion. It happens so fast but to me, that moment happened in slo-mo, I can still see it now."