Ireland began their Autumn Nations Cup campaign in impressive style against Wales in Dublin, recording a 32-9 victory over Wayne Pivac’s side. The match also marked the international debut of Kiwi-born James Lowe.
Lowe qualified under the residency rules following three seasons at Leinster and was equally impressive in the green of his adopted country.
A lot had been expected of the former Maori All Blacks player and Lowe did not disappoint in what was a solid first international Test match.
Albeit against a Welsh side which is struggling to get back up to speed following the departure of long-term head coach Warren Gatland, Lowe was a threat in almost every facet of the game, both in defence and attack.
A winger is expected to do so much more than the traditional duties these days and what separates a good winger and a great winger is their ability to affect the game off that wing.
— Autumn Nations Cup 🏉 (@autumnnations) November 16, 2020
Lowe’s defensive work in the opening 40 minutes was an area of his game which was important but unspectacular, while on attack he was potent and effective, particularly in his line break and subsequent offload to captain Jonathan Sexton.
When Ireland were pinned back by the Welsh defence or in an attacking rut, it was refreshing to see how the team relied on Lowe’s left boot to gain valuable territory.
So often we see wingers kicking aimlessly to the opposition’s full-back or back three and the average meterage is around 10 metres ahead of where the original kick took place. Lowe was able to turn an already tired Welsh team back into their 22m late in the game to firmly see out the game.
His brilliant touch finder in the first half from first receiver was another example of a solid all-rounder.
If he continues in this sort of form for the remainder of the tournament, Lowe could just do enough to secure the 11 jersey long term.