Thursday 13 December 2018

How big-hearted James Lowe gave up on All Blacks dream to help his family

James Lowe on his way to scoring
James Lowe on his way to scoring

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

James Lowe said that he had to put his family first ahead of his New Zealand aspirations when weighing up his move to Leinster.

Lowe, who left Super Rugby side Chiefs for Leinster last year, said that he put his dreams of playing for the All Blacks aside so that he could help to support his family.

"It was a tough decision," the 26-year-old told Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery on the Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast.

"At the end of the day you have to weigh up everything you see. Where you come from, where your family is, your family situation, where you want to be.

"It was a very difficult decision to make. Obviously growing up that's all I ever wanted to do (play rugby for New Zealand). If it wasn't for rugby I don't know, I didn't really have much else.

"Everyone wants to be financially stable at the end of the day with me staying in New Zealand in a way it would have been really selfish for me. Staying there and pursuing something, I know it was my dream but like it's a bigger picture than just me achieving that."

Lowe's family in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand came into financial trouble when his mother had a stoke leaving her unable to work.

"I don't come from a big family or anything, but we didn't always have it easy," he said.

"When I was 12 my mother had a stroke, so she's disabled still. It's not all doom and gloom but she can't work so immediately we're down to a single parent income.

"I was like 18 or 19 and left school, I still had it really good even though all of this had happened I never struggled for anything. My friends might have been able to go to the cinema without me but there was always food on the table, always a house."

In light of his family's situation, Lowe's brother left his studies to help support them. While Lowe didn't appreciate how hard his brother and father were working to help the family, it's something that he now wants to emulate by giving back to them.

"My brother who was studying at the time, he stopped his study and came back to Nelson just to try to fund, to help the family," he said.

"I never had a proper struggle, yeah it sucked but that was it, and then when I got to like 19 I looked at my dad and thought 'holy heck man, he gets up at five in the morning and doesn't get home till five at night'. Imagine doing that.

"I'm no saint or anything but a lot of people are like that. Especially from New Zealand you always want to make sure everyone else is sweet, so when this opportunity came it was an opportunity for me to give back."

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