Andy Farrell hopes James Low will be able to bring his Leinster form to the international stage, with the Wing set to make its Ireland debut against Wales on Friday night.
The Ireland head coach did not waste time overcoming Lowe, who qualified to play for Ireland based on the now-existing three-year residency law of world rugby.
Lowe’s debut has been on the cards for some time, especially since the New Zealand – born player was invited by Farrell to the Ireland camp and kept within the setup despite not being eligible to play yet.
Lowe’s hopes to breathe fresh air after arriving from the bosses in 2017.
The 28-year-old has been lined up for the All-Blacks but has been sidelined with a career injury. However, the loss of the Kiwis is an advantage for Ireland.
“He gives an extra dimension to how we want to play,” Farrell said.
“We ‘ve all seen him play PRO14, which is what Leinster means, so I hope he can bring it up. Beyond that, he’s expected to bring in extra competition for places on our team, which is very important for us to move forward.”
Lowe’s teammate Kiwi Jamison Gibson-Park made his first Ireland start and has been off the bench at two recent Six Nations games.
With Connor Murray on the bench, this is a great opportunity for Gibson-Park to make his claim.
“Jamison gets a chance to see how he handles an entire game,” Farrell said of the scrum-half.
“He’s got off the bench and is doing very well. He’s been with us for three weeks now in training and we are very impressed with what we have seen so far.
“Managing a game throughout, not in training, is something we’m curious about. We’m excited to see how we play. Again, he’s a little different from some of the other Saukram-hafs, so this is a good one.”
Since Lowe had always hoped to make his debut on the left wing for the Autumn Nations Cup opener, he did not persuade Farrell to remove Jacob Stokedale from the fullback.
After an intense shooting in Paris recently, the Ulster man gets another chance to show his quality from the backfield.
“Every person is different, and you treat them accordingly,” Farrell explained.
“Everyone said the answer was Jacob. It’s been a few games before. He has some things to look out for from the very last game, but he’s a key player for us and he’s getting a chance again.”
Stodydale’s Ulster teammate Billy Burns is also preparing for his Ireland debut, starting on the bench in front of Rose Byron.
Burns qualified to play for Ireland through his Cork grandfather, and Farrell hopes his fellow Englishman will rise to the position.
“Billy gets a chance. Rose has played a few games for us and performed well before. Billy was the one we looked at before the lockdown. He was great at training back then, and he’s back fit.
“At the beginning of the week we evaluated him and gave him the opportunity to show what he got on the international stage.”
Shane Daly was the only player to miss the selection due to injury, with Farrell expected next week.
That means CJ Standard and Andrew Conway have been given a night’s leave, and Caylan is moving from the Doris Blindside to his favorite No. 8 spot.
“It’s different with set-piece plays, and that’s how he talks about his business,” Farrell said.
“Coylan grew up to be the number eight player. If you ask him what his favorite position is, I’m not sure what he’s going to answer you. I think he’s going to play somewhere for Ireland, but that’s a position we have before.
“This is a position that CJ Standard has been watching over us in the past and playing incredibly well, and will certainly do so again in the future, but this weekend will have a chance.”
Keith Earls, who has returned from injury, needs to find a place on the bench as he is a Limerick native with his first look this season.
He is disappointed not to be able to return to fitness, but he has had a good three weeks and is on the team with incredibly new people, ”Farrell added.
“He’s a calm influence on everyone. He’s sharp, that’s for sure.
“I’ve always been curious about other boys waiting for an opportunity. We’ll see if they can grab it with both hands. You need to give people a chance to do it.
“We’ve got a squad of our choice for this fall nation window, and we want to put our trust in the team.
We hope that some young people who have been on the team for some time and are patiently waiting will perform at this level. That being said, there are youngsters on the team who haven’t had a chance this weekend. They are also in our thoughts.
“We plan here and now and in the future. That’s what we intend to continue throughout.”
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