Ireland wing Lowe tackles critics over defensive errors

·3 min read

Ireland winger James Lowe says he is making progress on his defence despite twice being at fault for crucial tries as his side slipped to consecutive opening defeats for the first time in Six Nations history.

The 28-year-old New Zealand-born wing failed to prevent French full-back Brice Dulin delivering the pass that let in Damian Penaud for France's second try in their 15-13 victory on Sunday.

The week before he had been criticised for his failure to cover opposite wing Louis Rees-Zammit for his try in Wales's 21-16 win.

The Leinster star has been the butt of some stinging remarks, no more so than former England wing Chris Ashton who said last year he was "too big, too heavy, too slow."

However, Lowe does not shrink from addressing his critics.

"Critics, they're going to talk anyway, that's their job," he said after the France game.

"There's 99 percent of people who talk that I don't listen to because they have never set foot in Lansdowne Road in a game.

"I worked on it so hard during the week, I was obviously highly frustrated last week, ball in hand, that's my natural game, it's the defence that I need to get better at and that's what I work on."

Lowe's powerful kicks have rescued the Irish on several occasions but he admits he needs to work on his tackling.

"I just have to make sure I can nail on the defence," he said.

"Today was a good shift, unfortunately I got that hit on that one tackle that he managed to bounce off but if people don't think I'm going in the right direction they're not watching the right footy, are they?"

- 'Show of character' -

Lowe with ball in hand presents a challenge to opposing defences but France centre Gael Fickou managed to push his foot into touch just as he was touching the ball down over the tryline in the first half.

Without Fickou's intervention, the score could have been a turning point as the French were down to 14 men after Bernard Le Roux had been sin-binned.

Instead the visitors scored a try of their own shortly afterwards through Charles Ollivon and the Irish were left chasing the match.

"Fickou, he wasn't even trying to tackle, he was just trying to get me out!" said Lowe.

"That's a heads-up play. Talk about fine margins, he wasn't going to make the tackle so he tried to get me into touch and that's what he did.

"It was so close. If it was a full 60,000-seater (instead of an empty stadium) that's going over the try-line."

Lowe admitted the narrowness of the defeat had left "him in bits" and the players were "heartbroken."

However, he said the Irish had to gather themselves, dust themselves down and secure their first win against Italy, who are without a point, in Rome on Saturday week.

They then face a vibrant Scotland in Edinburgh and round the tournament off against England at home.

With the title pretty much out of Ireland's reach, Lowe said the goals were simple in salvaging something from the championship.

"We want to win every single game," he said. "It doesn't matter who is in front of us, the team is going to go out and put their best foot forward.

"It will be a real show of character to see how we do bounce back.

"Italy haven't played badly by any means, but that doesn't mean that we put out a sloppy performance. We strive for excellence and that's how we're going to look at it."

pi/gj