highs and lowes | 

Irish winger James Lowe says he doesn’t find it hard to open up about his feelings

The Kiwi is on a high right now after three incredible performances but knows a Grand Slam and a World Cup are a long way away yet

Ireland and Leinster winger James Lowe has had a blistering start to the Six Nations with two tries in his first two games© ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Lowe’s try was awarded against France© SPORTSFILE

James Lowe and wife Arnica on their wedding day© Instagram

Daragh KeanySunday World

Looking jaded and feeling even worse, James Lowe jumps onto a Zoom with the Sunday World less than 48 hours after Ireland’s win against Italy.

“I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus,” he laughs as we kick things off and test the water on his mood.

There’s no denying that Lowe is currently embodying Ireland’s shift in power. Like his adopted country, there was a time not too long ago when things weren’t looking as positive as they do right now.

Injuries and a few mediocre performances meant Lowe wasn’t always a guarantee on the team sheet, but after explosive tries against Wales and France already this campaign as well as a brilliant kicking and defensive game against Italy last Saturday.

Lowe’s try was awarded against France© SPORTSFILE

We utter the two words that Andy Farrell has banned from the locker room, Grand Slam, and instantly Lowe knows he is about to break character and regurgitate the party line… “you know what I am going to say right? We just need to take one game at a time. That’s it.”

Luckily for us, the party lines end there as the 30-year-old winger was happy to chat about anything else.

“Downtime is so important during a tournament like the Six Nations. I am able to unwind for a few days but I won’t get long as we are back in camp on Wednesday.

“Then it is completely full on. 7am to 7pm each day. And you are constantly on the clock. It is so different to life outside the bubble. But we know how lucky we are to be in that bubble. So, I am not complaining.

“We have a lot to get through before the Scotland game. We study everything and everyone. I love that side of things, but I am not into it as much as some of the others. I like to learn my opponents tendencies but I don’t ever rely on them.”

The reason we are chatting to the Kiwi is because he is one of a handful of stars who are taking part in a new ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ podcast so did he find it hard to open up?

“Not anymore to be honest. I am an open book pretty much. But I don’t go telling all my teammates all my problems, obviously. But I have my crew; my wife [Arnica Palmer] and family and a few pals. I can always say anything to them. My inner circle is very tight.

James Lowe and wife Arnica on their wedding day© Instagram

“There is no buddy system in camp but if anyone wanted to talk or guidance on anything, I’d like to think they could ask me. People can always get things off their chest these days. You definitely gravitate towards certain people. Backs stick to backs and others stick to their club mates. That’s natural.

“Anyone landing into the Ireland set up nowadays knows all the boys anyway from the provincial game.

“There is still some fun slagging that goes on. Especially if you are new to the environment, like Jamie Osborne. It is part of the process, but it never goes too far and is always done with team building in mind. I would hate to think people felt they weren’t in a safe space to share.

“I remember when I first landed into Ireland and got to Leinster training for the first time, I didn’t know anyone but because a lot of the first team were away with Ireland at the time, I think it helped.

As the lads like Max Deegan and Tom Daly (now at Connacht) who were there said straight up ‘want to go for a few pints with us tonight?’ and I was in. That quick. Leinster has a very inclusive atmosphere.

“I had three years with Leinster before I got to Ireland camps so there were no introductions needed.”

He continued: “But I will say that things have improved so much through the years. One of my best mates came out as gay there recently and we were all so stoked for him.”

So does he miss anything that his non-rugby playing mates live with? “I don’t miss out on too much to be fair. I get to represent Ireland and Leinster, so I don’t mind being recognised if someone sees me. I’m like everyone else. If I don’t have a game on the weekend, I will go to the pub on a Friday night.

“Anyone hurling abuse at me only do so with a tongue in cheek. It would usually just be from a Munster, Ulster or Connacht fan to be honest. It might not be always positive,” he laughs. “But it is always fun.”

Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich and the Zurich foundation have launched a new ‘Tackle Your Feelings Podcast’. Find it wherever you get your podcasts.

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