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Chiefs winger Lowe to leave NZ and play in Ireland

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Hamilton based Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs have announced that winger James Lowe will play his final season of Super Rugby this year before moving to Ireland.

The 24-year-old has already scored three tries in the two matches played this year but will join Irish club Leinster later this year.

“It is with a heavy heart that today I announce I will be leaving New Zealand at the end of the year to play rugby abroad,” said Lowe in a heartfelt statement sabout his move.

“I have taken up a 3 year contract with Leinster rugby, based in Dublin, Ireland. This decision has not been an easy one. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an All Black, but at this stage of my life and for my future, I feel this is the best decision for me. Leinster are a very competitive side and I am looking forward to challenging myself in another professional environment.

“Like I have mentioned I leave New Zealand with a heavy heart – I am a very passionate Tasman and Chiefs representative which made my decision to leave even harder. I leave behind great friends, rivalries, my family and most of all the public who have supported me throughout my short professional career in NZ. I am not ruling out returning to NZ rugby. ”

“At 24 I feel my best years are still to come. But for this stage of my life and with an eye to the future, I have to set myself and my future family up so they can have every opportunity in life to succeed” said Lowe.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “James has made a massive contribution to the Chiefs over the past four seasons. His unique skillset, leadership and attacking mindset makes him one of the best left wingers in the world. It is a smart signing by Leinster. James is a top man, great in the community and has been a pleasure to work with.”

James Lowe made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs against the Crusaders in 2014. Renowned for his powerful left boot and evasive attacking style, Lowe has scored 18 tries in his 39 appearances for the Chiefs.

Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen confirmed the signing this morning and said, “James is a quality and still relatively young outside back that we have been tracking for some time, so we are delighted that he has agreed to join us.

“James has picked up considerable experience from his time with the Tasman Makos, the Chiefs and the Maori All Blacks. We hope he can bring the learnings from his time spent with these teams and really add to our environment here.

“We believe James will greatly add to the outside backs that we have and provide good competition in the squad as we look to remain competitive in both the Guinness PRO12 and the Champions Cup.

“We look forward to welcoming James to Leinster and seeing him out on the field representing the team once his commitments in New Zealand come to a close.”

The Maori All Blacks representative showed his resilience as a teenager after being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition that left him bedridden. The affliction could not stop Lowe from realising his childhood dream of becoming a professional rugby player and he now works as an ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand to inspire young kiwi’s to achieve their goals.

He will join up with his new Leinster team mates after the conclusion of the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup campaign which he will play for his home province Tasman.

Lowe’s signature comes on the back of news last week that Leinster had secured the services of Australian forward Scott Fardy ahead of the 2017/18 season.

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