It’s been three years in the making, but New Zealand-born wing James Lowe has finally taken to the international stage in impressive fashion, scoring a try on debut for Ireland.
Named to start on the left wing, Lowe bagged a maiden test try in the 81st minute of his side’s 32-9 crushing of Wales in the opening match of the Autumn Nations Cup in Dublin.
The 28-year-old did his stocks little harm as he made the step up to test rugby, earning praise from multiple quarters and a 7/10 rating in RugbyPass‘s player ratings for his efforts at the Aviva Stadium.
His appearance in the emerald green jersey caps off a 36-month journey he undertook to become eligible for Ireland after having moved to his adopted nation from New Zealand to play for Leinster in 2017.
Lowe has flourished since his transfer from the Chiefs to the Irish club juggernauts, scoring 33 tries in 49 outings as he played a key role in their PRO14 and Champions Cup success in recent seasons.
It seems a similarly fruitful spell in the Irish national side looms for the former Maori All Blacks representative, with fans and pundits taking to Twitter to voice their opinions on Lowe’s first foray in international rugby.
Some users were bold in their assessments of Lowe’s performance, going as far to suggest that the speedster could be in line for a British and Irish Lions call-up for their 2021 tour of South Africa.
A mate of mine in Nelson tells me James Lowe has now scored on debut for Tasman, the Chiefs, New Zealand M?ori, Leinster and Ireland. Maybe the Lions will be next?
— Phillip Rollo (@ByPhillipRollo) November 13, 2020
James lowe will have to be on that lions tour looks good for it
— Chris (@iamchrisforreal) November 14, 2020
Should Lions boss Warren Gatland select him in next year’s squad, he would join an exclusive group of players to have played both for and against the Lions.
Having featured for the Maori All Blacks in their 32-10 defeat at the hands of the Lions three years ago, it wouldn’t be unattainable for Lowe to join Riki Flutey, James Hook, Jared Payne and Elliot Daly in achieving such a feat.
With the remainder of the Autumn Nations Cup, a Six Nations campaign and the European club season still to be played between now and that squad, there is plenty of time for Lowe to state his case to tour the Republic in eight months’ time.
Elsewhere, those with Kiwi ties, however, were disappointed in New Zealand’s profligacy in allowing the Nelson-born product to escape the All Blacks’ clutches.
James Lowe should've been an @AllBlacks
— Pat (@Patman1884) November 13, 2020
Some users even used Lowe’s debut to criticise Ireland’s selection policy that allows the New Zealander to play for the country but blocks France-based star Simon Zebo from adding to his 35 test caps.
Don’t get me wrong James Lowe is a class act indeed.. But a NZ born playing in Ireland is all ok but an Irish born playing in France is a no go? Double standards or what? Tia x @SimonZebo
— Jack Lomas (@jlomas92) November 14, 2020
Others were simply glad to see Lowe in an Irish jersey for the first time and were excited for what the future held for the prolific try-scorer.
— Jonathan Sharkey (@jdsharks) November 14, 2020
Sounds like the Irish jersey means a lot to him . best outside back performance over the past 3 games
— mart (@martnrossie) November 14, 2020
Anyone who says not being born here means you don’t epitomise what it means to represent Ireland, check out @JamesLowe_03. Don’t underestimate the sacrifice made, and it is especially poignant that his family weren’t able to be present. Great debut, & more to come ??? https://t.co/1sgtCgpJ8Q
— Kevin Byrne (@kevinjbyrne) November 14, 2020
It’s very clear to see how much this means to him. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the system of project players, I love to see somebody have this much pride in wearing the green jersey. Well done James…so much positive energy on the pitch.
— Kevin OCeallaigh (@koceallaigh) November 14, 2020
Congratulations JL played a blinder as usual ???
— ??ny (@TonyKB777) November 14, 2020
I have been counting the months towards his eligibility. Well worth the wait ??
— Kelly (@Kelfogarty) November 14, 2020
— Jim (@jimhamilton4) November 13, 2020
James Lowe was immense. Battering Ram.
— Wil Wardle (@wilwardle) November 14, 2020
Lowe’s next chance to play for Ireland will come next Saturday, when Andy Farrell’s side travel to London to take on England at Twickenham in the second round of the Autumn Nations Cup.
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