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Ronan O’Gara offers explanation for James Lowe’s defensive woes

Lowe

“He just gets very much excited when his team have the ball.”

James Lowe learning rugby in the southern hemisphere has hampered his defensive ability, according to Ronan O’Gara.

The New Zealand-born Ireland winger again put in a poor defensive performance, as Lowe was at fault for two of Scotland’s three tries at Murrayfield.

Lowe has made multiple defensive errors in his short stint in a green jersey, leading O’Gara to give an explanation on Virgin Media as to why the gifted attacking player struggles so much without the ball in hand.

O’Gara on Lowe.

“I think it’s very easy to understand, having spent a season with the Crusaders. Over here, our understanding of the defence and how we set up for the week is 50/50 [split between attack and defence],” O’Gara explained.

“In Super Rugby, it’s 80/20. So they spend 80 per cent of their time on attack and it’s an entertainment business. It’s all about scoring tries.

“We criticised him in the first half for sauntering back when Finn Russell kicked through and got the lucky bounce. He just gets very much excited when his team have the ball.”

Lowe

‘The difference is chalk and cheese.’

While Lowe has spent almost four years with Leinster, O’Gara reckons that former Maori All Black has rarely been tested defensively with his province, resulting in his struggle to adjust to defending at test level.

“I think he just very much has to understand and appreciate that here, it’s 50/50. Because the most you can get out of 10 really, if you’re not that interested in defence, is a five.

“On this side [of the world] we really appreciate guys who are good on both sides of the ball.

“Unfortunately for Leinster, he really doesn’t get tested [defensively]. So it’s hard for him during the week to learn how he can improve. Because the difference in playing in the Pro14 and at test level is just chalk and cheese.”

Lowe has started in all four of Ireland’s 2021 Six Nations matches to date, but will have to seriously impress in training during the week to warrant a start against England on Saturday.

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