Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall: Chiefs wing James Lowe destined for big things

James Lowe of the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.
James Lowe of the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.

I have been impressed with the progress of James Lowe in the last couple of seasons at the Chiefs. He has probably been - please excuse the pun - a little hamstrung with injury, but he has shown with consistent game time that he is one of the better wings in the country in my opinion.

He is a very strong runner, with pace, although not blistering pace. He is good off both feet and in particular his left. And importantly, we very rarely see him get bundled into touch. He wants to keep the ball in play and will be innovative and chip ahead or pass early. He has a good awareness of his touch line and to me that signals he is an intelligent player who gets into good positions.

Lowe's left-foot kicking game brings a different dimension to the Chiefs' exit strategy and kicking game in general. If the ball comes from right to left he regularly clears.

Often he will get the ball two passes in before kicking. The ball will often go from Aaron Cruden to Charlie Ngatai, to Lowe, and, with the defence pressing, that gives him a lot of space to kick to.

He also often steps into first receiver too.

You often see him chase his own kicks and that's unusual these days. If you watch a kicking duel, often the kicker will stay back unless he is genuinely kicking to himself. The supporting players usually lead the chase. But Lowe can and does because he's often kicking to space and finding the grass, and that's what gives you time as a chaser to put pressure on.

He's got good variation - a chip and a grubber and he can regather both. I like the way he has a licence to roam as well.

Is he a potential All Black candidate? I think the All Blacks will be looking at him as a genuine left wing. In the next couple of years anyway, if we retain him in New Zealand, he will get his opportunities at a higher level. I think he can make the step up.

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