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Ronan O'Gara Has Interesting Theory On James Lowe's Defensive Struggles

Ronan O'Gara Has Interesting Theory On James Lowe's Defensive Struggles
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Progress has been slow, but it does seem as though there are finally some shoots of progress appearing in the Ireland team.

They looked much improved in attack during today's victory over Scotland, the area of their game that they have struggled so much with over the last year or so.

It was a mixed defensive performance. Ireland performed largely well when forced to keep the Scots at bay, but a couple of costly errors almost allowed their opponents to come back into the game.

One area of concern will be the form of James Lowe. The Leinster winger did not have the impact in attack that he would have hoped for, but the bigger issue was his performance when asked to defence.

It is obvious that this is not the strongest part of his game. However, it could hamper Ireland going forward if some improvements are not made.

After the final whistle, the Virgin Media panel dissected Lowe's performance on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Williams said that his attempt to stop Scotland's second try was 'not acceptable'.

I don't want to kick James, because I think he's quality. I just think he's not at the level required at the moment in international rugby.

He has been caught out. I feel for him because he has got a lot of quality with the ball in hand and his kicking. I'm not saying he written off or he's not up to it, but I think he's got a lot of learning to do with the intensity required in defence.

He's just making too many mistakes.


It is difficult to argue with that assessment.


Ronan O'Gara agreed that Lowe has fallen short on the defensive side of the game, giving an interesting explanation as to why that may be the case.

Having coached in New Zealand for a period, the former Munster man is very familiar with how players are coached in that part of the world.

He believes that the emphasis put on attack over defence in his home country might have something to do with the 28-year old's issues at the moment.



Over here I think our understanding of the defence and how we set up to succeed defensively is 50/50.

In Super Rugby it is 80/20. You spend 80 per cent of your time on attack, it's an entertainment business and it's all about scoring tries.

We criticised him in the first half for sauntering back when Finn Russell kicked through and got the lucky bounce, he just gets very much excited when his team gets the ball.

I think he has to understand and appreciate that here it is 50/50. The most you can get out of ten if you're not interested in defence is a five. This side we really appreciate guys who are good on both sides of the ball.

He is behind the wingers in national camp in the meeting. You hear Stuart Lancaster talk about him in detail about the work ons he has, but unfortunately for Leinster he doesn't really get tested so it's hard for him during the week to learn how he can improve.

The difference between playing in the PRO14 and test level is just chalk and cheese.

It is certainly clear that Lowe places far more emphasis on the attacking side of the game, something that has likely be instilled in him from a young age.

Andy Farrell will be hoping to see some major improvements in this regard moving forward.

SEE ALSO: Player Ratings: Ireland Battle To Victory Against Scotland In Murrayfield

player ratings scotland vs ireland 2021 six nations

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