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Simon Zebo to be left in the cold as Farrell relishes prospect of Kiwi James Lowe joining Ireland squad

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Head coach Andy Farrell. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Head coach Andy Farrell. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Head coach Andy Farrell. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

IRELAND head coach Andy Farrell has stressed that James Lowe has all the attributes to become an international star winger.

But Joe Schmidt's successor will maintain the IRFU’s hard-line policy regarding overseas-based players by reiterating that another celebrated winger will not be considered for a recall.

Speaking this morning, Farrell also insisted his side will be targeting a title win when the Six Nations resumes, gave his tentative backing to a proposed eight-team international tournament and championed Stuart Lancaster to be added to the Lions coaching ticket next summer.

Leinster's Kiwi-born sensation Lowe will become eligible for Ireland in November as one of the last players to benefit from the much-maligned "three-year" residency rule and many supporters feel he could be a game-changer for Farrell's men as they bid to renew their Six Nations title tilt.

"He's been great," enthused Farrell in a morning conference call. "He's been a great tonic for Irish rugby really and he's played some outstanding rugby over the years.

"Like everyone else, we'll see how he comes back and how he performs in the early parts of the season and there are plenty of big games in which he can put up his hand. He is the same position as everyone else.

"He is available from the beginning of November and we need to make sure we get selection correct accordingly and he will be part of our plans in the same way as everyone else is.

"He's a big guy, he's strong, he loves getting on the ball as much as he can, he comes off his wing, he is hungry for the ball, he doesn't like getting tackled that much, he has a great left boot and he is good in the air as well.

"He's a great all-round player. I'm sure he can see parts of his game where there is room for improvement as well. Hopefully we can see him in top form so he can push his claims for selection."

However, one of Lowe's charismatic predecessors in the Irish provincial arena, Simon Zebo, will remain excluded from contention as he contemplates a final season in exile with Racing 92 in Paris before a possible return to Munster next summer.

"The unwritten rule is there to protect Irish rugby, so I'm all for that. If Simon Zebo, like anyone else, came back into Ireland and played his rugby here and was on top of his game, like we know that type of form that Zeebs can bring, then obviously we'd look at him the same as everyone else."

Online Editors