Lowe on a high

Smiling Kiwi assassin heaps praise on 'freak' Larmour

POCKET ROCKET: Leinster’s James Lowe says you never know what you’re going to get from Jordan Larmour (pictured)

Des Berry

Leinster's smiling assassin James Lowe will not change anytime soon, for anybody.

The wing wizardry of the former Tasman Mako and Chiefs try-machine - he has plundered five tries from six caps for the Blues - was never rewarded with an All Black cap.

All the better for Leinster. All the better for Ireland in 2020. Fingers, legs, toes crossed.

For all of the miracle plays that have punctuated Lowe's career, the defensive holes in his game have been there too.

So too has that smile that has lifted and broken a thousand hearts for one reason or another.

You see, Lowe treats tries and tribulations all with the same wide, wonderful smile.

That will have to change when a mistake leads to misery, won't it? It won't.

"It confuses everyone," said Lowe. "'S**t, he's done something wrong,' but I just smile about it anyway."

It is understandable that Lowe would be a 'happy-chappy,' winning a lot more than he lost with the Chiefs.

It is about a lot more than that. He was bed-bound as a child due to rheumatoid arthritis. The condition is part of his life, controlled with regular injections. "The way I relax is just to think about where you come from, what you've achieved so far, what you play for, who makes you happy, what makes you happy."

"I'm on the other side of the world playing rugby. I never in a million years as a 10-year-old thought I'd be playing for Leinster. On the other side of the world, just having fun. That's what you have to remember

"I'm in a very privileged position and I know that," he said.

"I do it with a smile on my face no matter what."

Lowe is well-placed to evaluate the impact of Jordan Larmour, the brand-new Ireland international. "He reminds me of Damian McKenzie," said Lowe. "He's a little pocket rocket, a bit stockier than Damo (McKenzie) but, man, he's a freak to be fair. You just don't know what you're going to get."

Even Lowe was taken by surprise when Larmour embarked on a second-half counter that concluded with a ball over the top in what was a risky move. "He's gonna put a bloomin' chip-kick in when the pressure's on - c'mon, Jordy! He's a great kid. He's got a good head on him and a huge future at Leinster and in international rugby.

"He's a freak of nature."

He should know. For Lowe is the kind of out-of-this-world athlete Irish rugby just does not have. He is a different problem to deal with, as shown by his power through contact for two tries against the Scarlets and in making another for Luke McGrath.

Certainly, the Welsh club is a danger in the Champions Cup and to retain their PRO14 League title. The Scarlets won't be too concerned about losing to Leinster (20-13) at the RDS on Saturday.

They took away a bonus-point, due to Dan Evans last-minute penalty, to trail their Conference B rivals by three points with the return leg coming on Saturday week at Parc Y Scarlets.

"They're a very good team and we will play them again in two weeks' time," said coach Cullen. "Both teams have the challenge now of juggling who they actually available for these two games. There are a lot of factors beyond our control.

"We knew going into the semi-final that they were a very good team. Did everyone believe it?

"I don't know. And I'm not sure people believed it even after the semi. I think people probably thought Leinster played poorly.

"But people believed it after the final given what they did against a Munster team that had been going very well.

"The scoreline in that game was fairly emphatic. They are a bloody good team."