Ireland’s Kiwi winger James Lowe has shared his insight on flyhalf Johnny Sexton and his influence after a historic year in which Ireland secured a 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks.
The Maori All Black became capped with Ireland after signing with Lagenia in 2017 and changing his eligibility for the three-year residency rule.
The 30-year-old got the chance to face the All Blacks in November 2021, a feat he said he never dreamed of, and he scored a try against the side he dreamed of representing in the 29-20 win.
That success continued when Lowe returned to New Zealand this year with Ireland in the July series where the visitors overcame a 1-nil deficit to win the series, something he said wouldn’t have happened without Sexton.
“You’d be naive to think that we aren’t dependent on Jonathan [Sexton]” Lowe said in Jim Hamilton Rugby Roots.
“In the first test [against the All Blacks] when he left for HIA and didn’t come back, we weren’t there.
“We weren’t that well-known, but we weren’t agents. It adds a sense of direction to the team.
Ireland started fast in all three tests but a critical period of play just over 20 minutes into the first test saw Ireland give an interception and lose Sexton to a knock on the head after falling on Sam Cane.
Sexton returned to the side for the start of the second Test and Ireland looked the better side again, early on through Andrew Porter scoring inside three minutes.
Lowe labeled Sexton a ‘psychopath’ who pulls the team together while reading the speed at which the Irish flyhalf’s game is unmatched.
“I know I’m absolutely a psychopath, but when he talks, you listen,” says Lowe.
“It will put you in positions that put you through holes, give you weak shoulders. It’s easy to follow.
“He already has experience, without which you do not lose, but he only sees things develop so readily. He knows where the space is going to be.
“He knows that those who are trying to load in the attack, we are trying to pick up things that are similar.
“He is very skilled and very good at his job.”
When Lowe left the Chiefs after the 2017 Super Rugby season to join Lagos, he had to adapt to a new environment in which it was clear that Sexton was the “head honcho”, but to the Kiwi wing it was initially unclear why.
“There’s Sexton, 100 All-Ireland Tests, Lions Tour, all the accolades you could think of,” he said of joining Lagin.
“The sixth, as I now understand, is deserved.
“When I got here, I was like why the f*** is the dude like … it was like a tooth time, trying to fix him as much as I can, but you’re never after the king, are you?”
Asked by Hamilton how he dropped the pin, Lowe recalled the time shortly after he joined the club, where Sexton went to kick the goal.
“He was missing a kick, he won the Grand Slam in 2018, I went to him on Twitter asking if he knew anyone who could kick for his friend coach,” he said.
“I’m six and already like a house on fire, there’s a certain reason why he’s been so successful and he’s been able to do it at 37 years old.
“He is a full professional and treated like a king there and deservedly so.”