Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Chiefs flyer overcomes daily battle

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Inspirational Chiefs winger James Lowe is in the best form of his career. Photo / Getty Images
Inspirational Chiefs winger James Lowe is in the best form of his career. Photo / Getty Images

Chiefs winger James Lowe has more than aggressive defenders to contend with every week.

To look at the physically strong and super fit Lowe it is hard to imagine he lives a daily battle with arthritis.

The 23-year-old from Nelson was diagnosed with acute juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 16. He went from playing every sport available to being bedridden in constant pain for months. But through the right medication he overcame it and is now one of the form wingers knocking on the All Blacks door.

Lowe has been an official ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand for four years and always wears a yellow wrist band to promote the cause.

"It still takes a wee while to recover from things. It is in remission at the moment and things are looking good, yeah. I wouldn't say any professional rugby player is injury-free. There are always things behind closed doors that we are all battling with," Lowe said.

"I am able to put in 80 minutes every week at the moment and the body is coping with it. That is down to the trainers and physios and the hard work pre-season. I am happy with how I am going."

Lowe was also happy to be playing in a Chiefs team dominating the attacking statistics in this year's Super Rugby competition.

They put nine scintillating tries past the Western Force in last Saturday's 53-10 walloping in Hamilton to stay top of the Australasian Group.

"Our style of play, the way we want to keep the ball alive, our tempo, everything really, is an outside back's dream.

"It is awesome to be part of a backline in which a lot of things are happening," Lowe said. "It is enjoyable rugby, it is what people want to see and when passes start to stick and we score exciting tries it gives a real buzz around the crowd and within the team."

Lowe conceded the high-risk, high-reward style meant they would concede tries but he said it was paying dividends. "If we are scoring four and losing one then it is not too bad but we do want to cut that out especially against these clinical teams coming up. It is something that we are working on but I think you can see throughout that (Western Force) game we scored some awesome tries off turnovers."

Next up for the high-flying Chiefs is a trip to Canberra to play the second-placed Brumbies tomorrow night.

"They're one of the best sides in the competition at the moment and have arrived back from South Africa. We are doing a lot of homework on them," Lowe said.

"They are a smart team and have got international players throughout their squad. It is a big ask especially over there but if you want to win this competition you have to beat the best and you have to beat them at home.

"So that is what we are going over there to do and all the hard work has been put in during the week."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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