James Lowe says he will treasure the memory of a thrilling win over his native New Zealand and expects rivals to take note of Ireland’s eye-catching rugby.
Former Maori All Blacks winger Lowe, who qualified for Ireland last autumn on residency rules, set the hosts on course for Saturday’s statement 29-20 victory in Dublin with a superb opening score.
The 29-year-old again gained the approval of a raucous capacity crowd at the Aviva Stadium late on by producing a try-saving tackle to deny Kiwi centre Rieko Ioane.
Victory for Andy Farrell’s men was a seventh in succession and backed up last weekend’s impressive demolition of Japan, during which the in-form Lowe was also on the scoresheet.
“We put in a performance against the world’s best and came out on top,” he said.
“You don’t get to play against New Zealand very often. I have never played against New Zealand (until now).
“There were a few key moments that determined the outcome of the game. I’ll cherish the win.
“We’re playing the way rugby should be played.
“To play against the best team, the way they probably play the game and to beat them at their own game in a lot of ways, it’s huge for the confidence.
“I feel like people will be now like, ‘s**t, that’s not the Ireland of old, the box-kick Ireland’ – it’s playing off the cuff, pretty tight shapes, make defenders make decisions.
“It’s huge and it’s what we want to carry on doing.”
Lowe dived over in the left corner inside 15 minutes, but that was all Ireland had to show for their first-half dominance and they somehow trailed 10-5 at the break.
Ireland wrap up their autumn campaign against Argentina next Sunday and face a three-Test tour of New Zealand next summer.
Lowe says the team must strive to maintain current standards following a third win over the All Blacks in the past five years.
“We’ve got our own identity and it’s great,” he said.
“We played footy and won. We didn’t play negative footy, like the stereotype South Africa – not playing the game the way it should be played and they win.
“We are not going to take a backwards step now.
“The amount of trust that we have throughout this team, the boys performing at the highest level, we can’t take a backward step.”
Lowe, who was joined in Ireland’s starting XV by fellow New Zealand-born players Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park, moved to Leinster in 2017, having previously played alongside a number of the current All Blacks side.
Asked to describe facing the country of his birth, he replied: “(There was) confusion, there was a sense of pride to be able to stand in front of the haka, there was a sense of stress.
“I spent a lot of time with a lot of those boys, some of my best friends, people I’ve lived with, seriously admire in terms of who they are as people, what they represent.
“I got to stand there and have a good old chinwag with a lot of the boys.
“I’ve got best mates on both sides of the fence.
“They were happy for me, I was happy for them, but it’s rugby at the end of the day.”