All Blacks great Jeff Wilson has revealed that his time spent coaching with New Zealand Rugby was ended after being overruled on selecting James Lowe for the U20s team.
New Zealand-born Ireland winger Lowe played a crucial role for his adopted country in Saturday’s win against the All Blacks, as he scored a try and made a number of vital tackles throughout the match.
Lowe was highly rated while he was still playing in New Zealand, impressing for both the Chiefs and Maori All Blacks, but he was never selected to represent his country and signed on with Leinster in 2017.
Wilson, who is fifth on the list of the All Blacks’ top try scorers, revealed on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown that he unsuccessfully tried to select Lowe for New Zealand’s U20s team.
Jeff Wilson on James Lowe.
“There were some stand out performers for Ireland. One of them probably could have been playing for us if he’d hung around – James Lowe,” Wilson said.
“This was a big moment for him because he was a player in the Ireland system that had a couple of tastes at it, but they weren’t 100 per cent sure. This was his break out game.
“He trialled for the New Zealand U20s when I was a research coach doing some work for New Zealand Rugby. He didn’t make the New Zealand U20s team but to be fair, I did rank him one at full-back and one at wing. But they decided he wasn’t good enough.
“Then they gave me the exit interview to tell him why he’s not in the team. I then proceeded to say ‘Well, I picked you’ and I was never required with New Zealand Rugby again. That was the end of my career coaching with them.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 14, 2021
The Maori has found a home in Ireland’s starting team.
As Wilson mentioned, Lowe endured a difficult start to life as an Ireland international as he struggled defensively in multiple games, which culminated in him being dropped after a poor performance against Scotland in the Six Nations.
Lowe was given another chance by Ireland head coach Andy Farrell as he was selected to start against Japan and New Zealand, and the powerful winger grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
The 29-year-old now looks as if he has established himself as a first-choice winger for Ireland moving forward, largely thanks to major improvements in his defensive abilities.
Farrell may opt to give other players a chance on the wing against Argentina, but Lowe can rest easy knowing that he has done himself proud for Ireland this November.