James Lowe isn’t just a rugby player, he’s a battler.
Heading into his second year in Super Rugby, it would be easy for many to look over the challenges that James Lowe has faced to get where he is today, because it wasn’t long ago that Lowe may have wondered if his sports career could have been over.
At age 14, Lowe was diagnosed with acute juvenile arthritis.
Lowe lost 20KG in two weeks, as a result of going from being extremely active playing multiple sports including rugby and cricket to being bedridden and doing nothing. It all happened in a quick space of time, a period that Lowe describes as “practically overnight”.
Lowe knows it better than anyone, arthritis had the potential to take his clearly promising sports career from him just as it was beginning.
“I was such an active kid, I played literally every sport under the sun, and I remember having to have some pretty sad and serious conversations with my parents at the time thinking that rugby might not be it and I would have to start focusing on something else.”
It took a while before things settled down, but eventually through a clear positive attitude, Lowe returned to rugby and takes regular medication for his arthritis which helps keep him on the field and living his dream.
Lowe is now an ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand and has received its Young Achiever Award.
During trainings and games, Lowe can be seen wearing an orange wristband which is the official arthritis colour, something Lowe says he likes to preach and play for, as well as his other beloved Nelson College black wristband which he also wears while on the field.
2014 was a blockbuster year for Lowe, he scored a match-winning try on debut for the Chiefs against the Crusaders and followed up his time in Super Rugby with 8 tries for Tasman in their successful ITM Cup season last year, before being awarded with a place in the NZ Maori side where he scored a single try against Japan.
Here in 2015, Lowe finds himself not only playing full time Super Rugby with the Chiefs on the wing, but he also puts effort into his studies as he works towards a business degree at Massey University.
During pre season, Lowe describes his body as very injury prone and admits he shouldn’t have played so much ITM Cup rugby with Tasman last season, but he comes back into Chiefs camp focused on rehab and in terms of rugby his one-on-one defense.
Lowe has much competition in the Chiefs backline for 2015, including Tom Marshall, Bryce Heem, Tim Nani Williams, and Hosea Gear who can all play on the wing.
The thing that stands out about James Lowe is his love for sport.
Perhaps it is that love that has seen Lowe through the uncertainty of arthritis to arrive on the fields of Chiefs HQ training towards what the stats suggest will be a stella year as the Chiefs look to regain the Super Rugby title after an average season in 2014.
The Chiefs pre season continues with a trail game against the Waratahs in Sydney.