Six Nations: James Lowe sounds warning to rivals with Ireland yet to put in ‘complete 80’
Ireland wing James Lowe believes that there is plenty left in the tank despite topping the Six Nations table with a perfect 10 points from two games.
Andy Farrell’s men went into the tournament as favourites and have so far justified that tag with successive triumphs over Wales and France.
They defeated Warren Gatland’s side 34-10 before overcoming Les Bleus 32-19 in a match billed as a potential title decider.
Ireland appear on course to win just a fourth Grand Slam in their history, with matches against Italy, Scotland and England to come, but Lowe has called on his team to improve.
“Obviously outcome-wise, we’re very, very happy, two very good wins, but there are things to work on,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to say too much of a cliché here but we weren’t good enough in some aspects of our game and it was nice to be able to reflect on it in a down week and hopefully implement it and be better against Italy.
“I think the team is playing very, very well at the moment. Everyone has got a proper understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the week and Saturday is when we get to express it.
“Things are going well, we need to hold onto the momentum. We know performance is the main thing, and we don’t think we’ve put in a complete 80 yet.”
Lowe has impressed on his return from injury. The Leinster star missed the Autumn Nations Series due to a calf issue, but has scored two tries in as many matches in the 2023 Six Nations.
He showed his sniping instincts for both, albeit the 30-year-old was willing to admit that he got fortunate with his controversial effort against France.
“Well, I don’t think one of them was a try,” Lowe said.
“Don’t worry about the foot! The ball was out, man! I didn’t know at the time that my foot was out.
“I actually knew as soon as I put it down, I was thinking, ‘ah damn, this is out, don’t worry about the foot’.
“Sure look, at home you get the rub of the green sometimes. Away from home I don’t think it was going to be a try so you take it when you can.
“I thought I put the ball down on the line but obviously, like the curvature (of the ball)… I saw it from a bird’s eye view and I thought, ‘Ah!’”
Ireland have endured their injury troubles during the tournament and may be without influential fly-half Johnny Sexton for the game with Italy.
Lowe has previously stated that standards have slipped without Sexton on the training paddock but insists that it is not the case any more.
“The standards are always very, very high but Sexto holds himself and everyone else around him to such a high standard; that’s through time in the saddle, that’s through playing over 100 Test matches for Ireland. He’s done it before, he knows what works, he knows throughout the week that if we haven’t got our stuff right, it’s probably a reflection of how we train.
“The standards are still very high (when he’s not there), don’t get me wrong, and you could put any team in front of us at the moment and I feel like it’s up to us whether or not we perform.
“He still travels with us, he’s still in the environment, he’s still speaking in meetings, he’s still pointing out things. Just because he’s physically not playing or training doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an influence.”
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