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James Lowe: 'Rain brought me back to earth after sun, beaches, biking and beers'


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10 February 2020; James Lowe during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

10 February 2020; James Lowe during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Back at base: Max Deegan only has eyes for the ball at Leinster training. Photo: Sportsfile

Back at base: Max Deegan only has eyes for the ball at Leinster training. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

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10 February 2020; James Lowe during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Kia Ora! And what a weirdly fast start to the year it has been. Leinster qualifying top of the table in Europe, sitting top of the conference in the PRO14, Ireland starting off the Six Nations going two from two, and I got to spend two weeks back home filled with sun, beaches, biking and beers!

So it's been all good but you can't beat some snow, wind and rain to bring you back down to earth. Dublin saw it all this week. It's good to be back.

I know it has been an awesome start to the season for us going 16 from 16 but that doesn't mean anything if we don't win a couple of trophies at the end. There is a lot of talk externally about that but, honestly, for us it isn't a factor.

Sorry, I should say the unbeaten 'thing' isn't a factor. We do live in a week-to-week cycle. Review on Monday. Start to build on Tuesday. Play on Friday or Saturday. Then repeat. That short-term approach has served us well and we won't be shying away from it any time soon.

As I said, it's trophies that will define our season, not records. We are still too far away and too many things can happen for us to start getting worried about that just yet. But it's definitely been fun.

As a team our game is evolving and defensively we have stepped it up another gear, and defence is what's going to be needed looking ahead to Saracens...don't even get me started there!

But all we can worry about is the Saracens that take to the field. They are a team that will be playing for their season that day in April and they will relish coming to the Aviva and having a bunker mentality like they did last season when they used it to their advantage with what was going on off the field. But this is different.

Defending their title, playing for the only trophy available to them this season and, who knows, for some of them playing in maybe their last European club game for a while.

It's a really odd one but they haven't become a bad team overnight and they are a team that we respect for what they have achieved on the pitch.

So yeah, even though we have a big run of five games between now and then I'd be lying if I said I didn't have that fixture at the back of my head and I'm weirdly looking forward to it already. I heard over 40,000 tickets have been sold already so obviously you lot are too!

We have been tested in lots of ways by lots of different teams in the league and in Europe this season but Saracens are different. We know that. They know that. It's one-all over the last few seasons so let's see how this one plays out. A hell of a test that's for sure and I cannot wait!

Between now and then a lot of our boys are obviously away with Ireland and have made their own headlines. Ireland are off to some start. As I was away I only managed to catch the game against Wales but they seem to be rejuvenated and full of life. A whole list of players are back playing quality rugby across all four provinces which is very good for Irish rugby. Rob Herring, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Andrew Conway just to name a few.

They are all playing with a new confidence and are like a new team. That is what happens though when a new coaching team comes in and also when you get that freshness that comes with a new environment and a new training base. I hear the new place they have is awesome and they would have been well hidden from the wintry conditions we had this week!

It was also great to see Caelan Doris, Rónan Kelleher and Max Deegan get their first caps. They have been tearing it up for us over the last year or so and definitely the start to this season they have been key to our performances.

Obviously everyone was gutted to see Caelan go off early in his debut and he had started so well. But he'll be back making a nuisance of himself in no time. For Rónan and Max they'll be itching to get game-time tomorrow with us at the RDS.

Catching up with them this week has been all positive, they are really enjoying the experience but they also want to get their hands on the ball again and get some miles into their legs.

If they go well they know too that they can go back into Ireland camp next week full of confidence having shown the coaches what they can do and also with some extra minutes banked. It can sometimes be difficult to slip back in after being away with Ireland but the boys have been good this week I know and they are keen to pull on a blue shirt again.

After the 13 weeks in a row of games in the last block there was a chance for the players and back-room staff to get away for a bit and I was no different. It was so nice being back home. I actually surprised my parents which almost gave Mum a heart attack but apart from that, everyone is in good health.

The weather was beautiful, close to 30 degrees most days, which meant I came back a couple shades darker but it's washing off thanks to Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis will finish it off properly.

Speaking of the weather, my whole family is planning a trip over here in November - why they picked that month I just don't know! Anyway, whatever the weather, I know we will see you all at the RDS tomorrow. Here's to kicking off the next block with a good performance.

Irish Independent