'It's not nice to see your name on that list' - Alex Lozowski's nightmare start to French adventure has come full circle
England’s Alex Lozowski started this year being named in a list of the worst signings in the Top 14, but is now battling with Lyon’s Julian Tuisova and Castres Benjamin Urdapilleta as the Player of the Month in France after kicking Montpellier into the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
Lozowski’s dramatic change in fortunes has helped his struggling Montpellier team pull clear of the relegation zone with impressive wins over Agen, Clermont and leaders Toulouse and a quarter-final win over Benetton on Saturday would take their unbeaten run to five matches.
While their lowly Top 14 league position – they are 11th – means they cannot qualify for the Heineken Cup next season they could earn a spot by winning the Challenge Cup.
The England international is currently on a year long loan from Saracens and has become the first choice kicker with recent matches producing an impressive haul of points. There were 16 against Glasgow and Toulouse, 14 against Agen and 17 in the win over Clermont.
Back in January at the halfway point of the season the RugbyRama site asked fans to vote for the best and worst signings of the season with the popular Tops and Flops. Two Englishman made the Top 10 Flops, Lozowski, ranking third while Agen’s ex-Harlequins winger Gabriel Ibitoye – now at Montpellier – was at number No1.
Lozowski, who took over the kicking after Springbok Handre Pollard ruptured his ACL, said: “Montpellier had four players in that list of disastrous signings and I suppose when you have played for Saracens and arrive at a new club there is an expectation. We lost a lot of games and it’s not nice to see your name on that list. Now, with the Player of the Month nomination, it is because the team is playing well with a few wins and being named with the two other guys is a reflection of how the team has gone.
“It was never as bad as people thought before and now that I have been nominated it’s not because I am an amazing player again.
“It has been much better with a good cohesion and confidence has come back into team. We had a lot of narrow losses and now we have hung for the wins and someone was saying that if matches lasted 75 mins we would be in fourth place in the Top14 table!
“Last minute losses are soul destroying and demoralising and we haven’t been far off and have now beaten Clermont and Toulouse. Those wins showed how good we can be and I have been doing a bit of the kicking which I wouldn’t normally do and we would rather Handre Pollard was fit. He is only a few weeks from being back.
'I was going through the motions at my club, put a huge amount of strain on my wife, my friends, my family, my teammates probably and it was definitely a massively tough period for me'https://t.co/y5JIFxoxeP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 8, 2021
“We now have a chance of qualifying for the Heineken Cup by winning the Challenge Cup and the final eight matches are the big focus with six massively important games in the league and two in the Cup if we get to the final. I would be awesome to play in final and finish on a high and it would make up for the disappointing results earlier in the season. Everyone wants to play for the big prizes and we take the Cup seriously.”
Opting for a loan spell in France took Lozowski out of consideration for England but he is keen to add to the five caps already collected. “I really want to finish the season strongly and I haven’t been back to the UK since playing Wasps in December and haven’t seen my family since September,” he added. “It will be great to have the band back together at Saracens with the guys returning from loans with other clubs. It will be the start of a new chapter.
“In terms of England selection, I will have to wait until I am back with Sarries and I will see where that takes me. “
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