James Lowe has endeared himself to not only Leinster people but Irish rugby fans since defecting to Dublin from New Zealand.
The Leinster winger has become a fan favourite thanks to his all-action and unpredictable style of play.
In many respects, it’s a case of opposites attract. Leinster’s structured regime under Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster has proven highly effective in helping them return to the top of club rugby in Europe.
However, the addition of Lowe in 2017 added another dimension to the eastern province with his unpredictability posing questions that very few have managed to answer.
“I just play what’s in front of me. I like having a go and running around but obviously I came over here to fit into Leinster’s structure. I’m not trying to get Leinster to fit around me but a square ain’t going to fit into a circle so I’m just trying to do my best,” Lowe told Pundit Arena.
“I kind of fell into being a winger. Like, I’m quick but I’m not the quickest. Your stereotypical winger has got to be the fastest there but that free, open sort of style I think fits very well into a structured team.
“Because you’re looking at this team who you think is very structured and then all of a sudden holy crap! There’s this fella out there and you don’t know what he’s going to do next.”
Unpredictable is an apt word to describe Lowe, not only in his play but his personality also.
With each of Ireland’s provincial players affiliated to a particular club side, upon arrival in Dublin, Lowe was sought out by a number of the rugby’s Dublin 4 powerhouses.
However, in typical James Lowe fashion, he opted for the most unpredictable and unlikeliest of clubs to associate himself with. Clondalkin Rugby Club.
“I was getting questioned by everyone: ‘Who’s your club?’ All the usual people were trying to affiliate myself with their club. You know the powerhouses of club rugby, they wanted me to come down and I was like: ‘Mate, you’ve got enough of everything’.
“I literally said to the boys: ‘What’s a club no-one would think of?’ Someone said: ‘Clondalkin’. And I was like: ‘Man! That’s my club’”.
There’s more to it, however, than just picking an obscure rugby club in order to go against the grain. Lowe knows that this is one of the ways in which he can give back in the city he now calls home.
The Kiwi is also acutely aware of how his affiliation to Clondalkin can help tackle the stigma that rugby is a sport for the more affluent of families.
“I’ve been down there and hopefully, I’m going to one of their home games coming up. It’s awesome I went to their U10s and U13s prize-givings and it was mental, the place was packed.
“Boys don’t go to those kinds of clubs, they stay in the one’s around the D4 area so it’s good to give back in a way and I don’t make it too open. I don’t tell people when I’m going down, it’s just a surprise to see me going down there.
“It’s good to tackle the stigma around rugby being for posh boys and that it’s an affluent sport. It’s cool, there’s a fella down there called Greg who I liaise with and he was saying how much of an impact it has when someone like myself, who’s a professional in the game turns up. It’s mental, people don’t expect that.
“When the summer camps are on they expect the Leinster Academy boys to turn up in Clondalkin so to be able to go there and just put a smile on the kids’ faces that’s all that matters.”