The Irish squad looks set to welcome a new but familiar face.
Connacht and Ireland international Bundee Aki believes that Leinster winger James Lowe is “international calibre”.
Lowe will be eligible to play for Ireland once he completes his three years of residency which puts him in line for a potential Ireland debut in November.
The charismatic 28-year-old has been superb for Leinster over the last three seasons and he certainly looks to have all the qualities to make it on the international stage.
Aki made his senior international debut against the Springboks in November 2017 after qualifying to play for Ireland on residency grounds. The powerful centre has since gone on to earn 26 caps for Ireland.
During that time, there was a debate surrounding Ireland’s use of project players and Aki, who was at the centre of the storm at the time, says that it’s something that he didn’t pay too much attention to.
“I really don’t pay too much attention to it,” Canterbury ambassador Aki said. “As I said, I stand with what I said before.”
Ultimately, Aki will back anyone who deserves to play international rugby
“If they’re playing good footy, then I’ll 100% back them as a player.”
“They’re very good to play international rugby and if they feel like they deserve to play international footy and if they’re playing good footy, then I’ll 100% back them as a player.”
Bundee Aki is more than familiar with the qualities that James Lowe could bring to the green jersey. In addition to playing against him on the interprovincial scene, the duo are also former teammates when they both lined out for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
“James Lowe, I played with him at the Chiefs and he’s an unbelievable player. He’s obviously done really well with Leinster. I think he’s international calibre as well. I have no doubt that if he keeps playing the way he is and if he gets named in the squad or if anybody else gets named in the squad, fair play to him.”
As the season gathers steam and the return of international rugby takes place, there will likely be debate once again about Lowe playing for Ireland.
“It’s people’s opinions, really.”
Aki recalls his own experience and believes that it’s important to focus on the opinions of people who matter the most, rather than any outside noise.
“I said before as well, it’s people’s opinions, really. What opinions really matters the most is how you take it and people around you, and that’s their opinion. You just got to make sure that the coach’s opinion (is the one) that matters, the team and the guys around you that matters the most.
“Just take it as it is. I certainly just try to put it away and just be like, ‘that’s people’s opinions.’ That’s what it is, just people’s opinion really.”
Canterbury, the official kit partner to Irish Rugby, has revealed the new Ireland Rugby Home and Alternate jerseys that will be worn throughout the 2020/21 season.