Lowe just keen on keeping Leinster on a high

Some players refuse to look beyond the next 80 minutes, the next opponent, or even the next training session.

Lowe just keen on keeping Leinster on a high

Some players refuse to look beyond the next 80 minutes, the next opponent, or even the next training session.

But James Lowe? Well, he didn’t get where he is by being the same as everyone else.

Leinster face Benetton tomorrow in Treviso, where top seeding in the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage is the reward for victory, and Lowe had no qualms biting when the importance of that ranking arose.

“Going 15 games unbeaten is lovely, but it doesn’t matter what we have done before this game, there is such a huge bearing on this game,” he said.

“If we win, then we get, first, a home quarter-final, and if we win that, a home semi.

“If we are able to win that, we get to pick the changing rooms (for the final).

“This will have such a huge bearing on the outcome of the season.”

The Stade Vélodrome dressing room has probably never been given a mention by a player months out from a game, but this is where Leinster are now.

Unbeaten in 400 minutes of Champions Cup rugby, another win this weekend will see the province record a 100% record in their Pool for only the fifth time in 25 seasons.

In total, Leinster are on a 15-match run, and another win on Saturday would set a club record, one better than the 2001-02 side.

Lowe joined a long list of players and staff insisting that the run is not on his mind — instead, his focus is narrowed in on avoiding defeat.

“No one likes losing, it’s an awesome atmosphere we’ve created,” he said.

“Every loss is tough, but this one would be especially tough if we lose.

“It will have such a huge bearing (on the rest of the competition).

“We know we’ve got a target on our backs, if we’re on an unbeaten run or it’s round one of a competition. People want to beat us.

"We’ve been at the top for a couple of years. We’re a premier team in Europe.

"It doesn’t matter what team turns up. They want to put a shot on us. That’s for sure.”

Lowe believes that Leinster only lose when they’ve done “something wrong”, an insightful comment into the mentality of the club.

But Benetton are one of the few teams to have left the RDS with a smile on their face in recent seasons, with a draw last year and a win the year before.

“Benetton’s results [this season] don’t reflect the team that they are, there is a lot of international quality sprinkled throughout it,” Lowe said.

“There are a lot of boys who will probably go into this game trying to put their hand up for a start in the first round of the Six Nations as well.

“And they have beaten us before. We have drawn. Every single game we have played against them, we haven’t been able to put them away, so obviously they can go in with confidence.

“But it is all about us. If we can get in there and be clinical, get on top, stay on top, hopefully, we can come away with the win.”

Winning is something that’s been frequent, if not easy, for Leinster this season — with their 100% record in Europe matched by their 100% record in the PRO14.

All told, it’s 1,200 minutes of winning, and in that run no player has made more starts than Lowe.

The Kiwi has played 800 minutes in total (second behind Max Deegan, who has made fewer starts), 10 starts — and ten finishes.

With Jamison Gibson-Park now eligible for Ireland, there’s no longer a selection problem with Lowe, Gibson-Park, and Scott Fardy, Leinster’s three southern hemisphere imports, but the irony is not lost on Lowe that when he becomes eligible later this year, his time with Leinster is likely to be curtailed.

Has he thought of that, now he’s enjoying such a consistent run of action?

“No, I haven’t really, to be honest,” he said, “I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment If I get picked, then I want to perform, I want to play 80.

I’ve been very lucky to have gone this far without any serious niggles or things that have kept me out of games.

“Touch wood, hopefully, I can get to the end of the season and worry about that next hurdle when it comes.”

Perhaps, it is put to Lowe, he is a player who prefers not to spend too much time on the sideline?

“No, I like my time off as well,” he smiles.

“I’m not going to lie, I like a beer like everyone else. I love the game of rugby.

"It has given me an awesome opportunity to call it a job and live on the other side of the world.

"But there are times when you need a rest and you get that.

“But, there are times when there are two, three, four stretches of games where you’ve got to dig in, you know. This week is a short week coming off a very long week.

"I’m battered and bruised, but I’m going to turn up and train because that’s what I have to do. We had Monday off and it is about getting your body right.

"I am still stiff and sore from last weekend, but I’m going to run out there because I know it is the best thing for me, to give me the opportunity to play.

“I don’t mind a couple of weeks off here and there.”

There will be plenty of room in the Stade Vélodrome dressing room for a rest. And a beer.

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