Friday 19 January 2018

'He is one of the best left wingers in the world' - Isa Nacewa on new Leinster signing James Lowe

Isa Nacewa: Recruitment role. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Isa Nacewa: Recruitment role. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Should Isa Nacewa decide to pursue a future career outside rugby, recruitment might well suit him.

After all, the Fijian was the man who first introduced Leinster and Ireland to the previously unheralded name of Joe Schmidt.

For now, Nacewa is content to remain a key player on the pitch, rather than off it.

Next season, he will welcome James Lowe into the back field, one of the latest tranche of exciting young uncapped All Blacks to seek a fortune abroad rather than impatiently await fame at home.

New Zealand's loss will be Ireland's gain.

"I've watched him for the last two years, while I was at the Auckland Blues before I came back here," Nacewa tells us.

"He is one of the best left wingers in the world. He hands-down is. He brings in competition and it boosts Leinster. It was a no-brainer in trying to get him here."

Nacewa was informally consulted about Lowe but, given the 24-year-old's sheer class, the conversations did not have to be detailed.

Unlike Schmidt, Lowe's class has already been aglow for some time.

"I had conversations," adds Nacewa of a player who could yet decide to play for Ireland.

"I don't know James personally. I've watched him very closely. But, if his name gets chucked over the table to bring him in, I said, 'Yes, 100 per cent'.

"James is simply just a class player. His try-scoring record in Super Rugby alone is right up there.

"He just hasn't been capped by the All Blacks yet. He is a phenomenal player."

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac is one who will not moralise about Lowe's transfer; he himself is a Kiwi, for one thing, and his club recruited a compatriot with a similar profile in winger Johnny McNicholl.

"Johnny is probably a similar sort of player," agrees Pivac.

"He has done very well in New Zealand rugby and, for whatever reason, he probably thinks he's not going to be an All Black.

"There are a lot of good players ahead of him. When do you make the move? If you are young enough, under the current rules, to play three seasons and play international rugby potentially up here.

"Jared Payne is a classic example, isn't he? The New Zealanders see guys like that playing international rugby and think, 'Well, if I can't be an All Black, the next best thing is playing for another nation.'

"James is a very good player. I like him. He's a strong runner. He's an all-round footballer, a lot of skill. I think he will do well, unfortunately!"

Nacewa was denied the opportunity to play for Ireland under World Rugby guidelines as he played in the 2003 Rugby World Cup for Fiji but Lowe would be allowed to follow in the footsteps of Payne should he so choose.

Lowe, who has forged a sparkling career despite suffering from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis which was diagnosed more than a decade ago, was coy on the subject.

"I haven't even played for Leinster yet, so one step at a time," he said.

Irish Independent

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