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Thursday 13 December 2018

Ryan scaling new heights, says Lowe

Bloodied but not beaten: James Ryan shows the cost of Saturday's bruising clash
Bloodied but not beaten: James Ryan shows the cost of Saturday's bruising clash

James Lowe knows a good one, heck a great one, when he sees one.

He played with Brodie Retallick at the Chiefs and had a front-seat view of what the All Black was getting up to.

When asked to consider which of Ireland's heroes made the biggest impression on Saturday night, the wing wizard reached for a forward, not a back.

"James Ryan was an absolute bloody freak. Holy!" he said, in that uniquely personal way.

"His numbers, something like 20 carries, 17 tackles, I mean that speaks for itself.

"I saw him today (Monday) and I went up for a handshake and he was just like a robot," said Lowe, in imitating Ryan's strained movement from the bashing handed out and taken.

"He was immense. Since I've got here, he's the softest, hard person I've ever met."

It is one of Ryan's greatest gifts that he understands when to talk and when to listen.

There is something of 'The Silent Assassin' in the way the lock goes about his business.

"Throughout the week you wouldn't know you're going to get that sort of performance out of him," said Lowe.

"He still has a lot to learn which is the scary thing.

"You're seeing those numbers and they're world class, and this kid is like, what, 22?

"Still can't drive!" Lowe throws in just as an aside, possibly to confirm the kid is human after all.

"Imagine when he gets all the pieces of the puzzle."

Lowe has a way with words, in case you didn't know, to match his way with the ball.

That is why he is a media dream, shooting from the hip - should that be lip? - on a variety of topics.

He carries a walk and a talk that is not from around these parts. Good thing too.

There was an overall appreciation for what Ireland did to New Zealand and what was the bedrock of it all.

"Yeah, like, if you break it down, defence wins the game," he said.

"Everyone talks about the set piece play, don't get me wrong it was a work of art, everything that unfolded from it.

"But, defence won that game," he maintained.

"It's what you have to do against the All Blacks. you have to starve them of the ball and be clinical with it.

"The Irish forward pack definitely stood up, they were smashing people left, right and centre."

Lowe even came back to a moment when the talismanic Retallick was rocked back in the tackle.

No, it wasn't that one where Devin Toner stopped him in his tracks and Ryan arrived to make Retallick retrace them.

It was the remarkable rattle the Ireland captain put on the second row.

"Rory Best, holy crap, when he put a shot on Brodie, it sent shivers down my spine and I was blooming halfway up the stands.

"It was an awesome performance and something Ireland should be proud of."

Something, some day, Lowe could be part of too.

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