Rugby: Lowe family back in spotlight

By Shane Hurdell

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When you are one of six sons and one daughter as is the scenario with Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby flanker Karl Lowe it's tough getting your dad's attention.

In Lowe's case it was tougher when his dad, Derek, left the Bay at the end of 2011 with Lowe's brothers, Jamie and Jacob, for an 18-month stint of work in the mines at Mount Isa in the north of Queensland. Derek returned home in June and every Saturday since has travelled to Auckland to watch Lowe's youngest brother, Jonah, play for King's College and various Auckland age group teams.

However, Maori All Black and Hurricanes openside flanker Lowe will become his father's main focus of attention again tomorrow should he get time off the subs bench when the Magpies defend the Ranfurly Shield for the first time this season in a fourth round ITM Cup clash against the Counties-Manukau Steelers at Napier's McLean Park.

"There's going to be a great atmosphere ... it will be a special occasion," Lowe said.

He missed the Magpies' previous two games with a rib injury but got the thumbs up after surviving contact sessions and a couple of jabs from the old man at yesterday's training session.

"This is a special time for Karl and the Magpies. I'm not going to miss this game ... I never missed a game when the Magpies defended the shield back in the 1960s," Derek said.

A former Clive age group team coach, Hastings East Ross Shield team coach and St John's College 1st XV mentor, Derek, is tipping 17-year-old Jonah to follow a similar path in rugby to the one taken by his fourth eldest child Karl who will play his 93rd game for the Magpies tomorrow.

A Year 12 student, Jonah, was the top tryscorer in the Auckland secondary schools competition this season.

"Yes, you could say Jonah has stolen the limelight while I've been injured," Lowe, 28, said.

He pointed out if the Magpies could retain the shield tomorrow it would rank among his three career highlights. His other two to date are the 2007 8-6 win against Wellington at McLean Park and playing for the 2010 Maori All Blacks in their 35-28 win against England at McLean Park.

While Lowe's father will be watching him live for the first time in almost two years his wife, Celeste, a Hawke's Bay Tuis player and former Manawatu rep and their three sons, Kyan, 8, Kalani, 4, and Kage, 2, will also be among the spectators.

Magpies head coach Craig Philpott will announce his team after today's Captain's Run at McLean Park. Apart from Lowe replacing Tony Lamborn and Adrian Barone replacing All Black Ben Franks on the subs bench there aren't expected to be any other changes. "I feel for Tony but he knows this is a big learning year for him and he is a staunch supporter of our team before self philosophy," Philpott said.

Philpott bracketed Ash Dixon and Ged Robinson for the starting hooker's role yesterday as Dixon has a knee injury.

However Dixon is expected to get the nod after the Captain's Run. Should Barone get game time it will be his first outing of the season for the Magpies after recovering from an eye socket injury collected in Canterbury club rugby.

Philpott pointed out he and assistant coach Danny Lee have had no trouble getting their troops refocused for Saturday's match following this week's parades and Sunday night's celebrations.

"I thought we might have had trouble but the players have owned that role. It's worked out exactly as we planned it at the start of the season and we've had a good week of training."

Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell has started training with the squad following his leg injury.

"It's very much a week by week thing with him. He has got a bit more intense but we know we might have to back off if he pushes himself too much," Philpott added.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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