Rugby

James Lowe believes Jack Crowley is taking Ireland fly-half chance in his stride

The 24-year-old was elevated to first-choice fly-half following Johnny Sexton’s retirement after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jack Crowley, pictured, is tasked with filling the void left by Johnny Sexton’s retirement
Jack Crowley Jack Crowley, pictured, is tasked with filling the void left by Johnny Sexton’s retirement (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley is taking the challenge of filling Johnny Sexton’s shoes in his stride and “could go far”, according to team-mate James Lowe.

Test rookie Crowley marked his maiden Guinness Six Nations appearance in Dublin with the first senior try of his career to set the defending champions on course for a crushing 36-0 win over Italy.

The 24-year-old, who has never touched down in 45 provincial outings for Munster, was elevated to first-choice number 10 after long-serving talisman Sexton retired following the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Leinster wing Lowe also starred on Sunday afternoon – claiming the fifth of Ireland’s six tries before being named man of the match – and has been impressed with Crowley’s early impact.

“He’s got a lot of pressure on him, there have been some world-class 10s come before him,” he said.

“He’s taken it in his stride, bossing it around week to week.

“He hasn’t quite got that Sexton aura about him. He hasn’t got the stare down yet. He’s awesome, he growing into it.

“He slotted into 15 (after full-back Hugo Keenan was injured) as well, fair play to him, he’s a young man with a good head on his shoulders and he could go far.”

Crowley, who has 11 caps, made his full championship debut in Ireland’s statement 38-17 round-one win in France.

For the second successive week, he shrugged off some nervy kicks to produce an assured performance.

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey – one of six players brought into Andy Farrell’s starting XV following success in Marseille – echoed Lowe’s praise of Crowley.

Former Ireland captain Johnny Sexton retired following last year’s World Cup in France
Former Ireland captain Johnny Sexton retired following last year's World Cup in France Former Ireland captain Johnny Sexton retired following last year’s World Cup in France (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“He’s good, isn’t he? He’s went really well the last couple of games,” said McCloskey.

“He’s obviously still learning, he’s a young guy but some of his touches, the way he takes the ball to the line, the way he offloads is something slightly different to what Johnny brought – not that Johnny wasn’t incredible, but it’s a slightly different way of playing.

“Obviously he’s had a couple of mistakes in there and bits and pieces to work on, but you’re going to get that with someone who is 24 years old.

“I thought he was very good and very good last week as well.”

Dan Sheehan’s double and further scores from Jack Conan and Calvin Nash ensured Ireland go into a fallow weekend at the top of the table with maximum points.

Farrell’s side host Wales on February 24 before taking on England and Scotland next month.

“We’d a fair few changes this week and boys who came into the group really put their hands up and showed why they are internationals,” added Lowe.

“We are happy with where we are sitting, it’s a pretty good position to be in.”