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Medical battles fuel sports star’s rise to form and fame

Nov 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, Sport

STAR STRUCK: Posing with Wellington stars Ma'a Nonu and Julian Savea

STAR STRUCK: James with Wellington stars Julian Savea (left) and Ma'a Nonu.

TWO years ago, James Lowe often felt too sick to get out of bed.

This year, the arthritis sufferer scored 17 tries for Nelson College in this year’s Crusaders Press Cup secondary school rugby competition, pulled on the New Zealand secondary schools black jersey and helped them defeat Australia, and signed a two-year deal with the Tasman Makos.

The 18-year-old centre/fullback’s chances of playing rugby were almost crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, but a breakthrough came in March, 2009, in the form of two intra-neural injections a week which have kept the condition under control.

“At the time when I got it (in November, 2008) it was really, really bad,” he says.

” I was in bed for the whole summer. I couldn’t do anything and I lost heaps of weight. I was unmotivated to try and get out of bed because I would get dizzy and fall over.”

He was motivated by seeing in the first fifteen players he felt he could play as well if not better than:  “I knew I was better.  I hated [that] because I didn’t like seeing people in my position.”

The battle to beat arthritis fuelled his resurgence on the field and got rugby experts tipping him for bigger things.

The New Zealand team’s tight bonding and scoring a try against Australia was extremely satisfying, but pulling on his black jersey for the first time will remain the greatest memory.

“We got [the jersey] presented to us by [All Blacks flanker] Liam Messam and to put it on for the first time was awesome. It’s something [I’ll] never forget.”

“I want to make the New Zealand Under 20 side in a few years time, play professional footy for as long as I can and hopefully become an All Black one day.”

Lowe opted for the Makos after spurning offers from the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team and provincial rugby sides Auckland, Otago and Taranaki.

The Makos game of attacking with their backs as often as possible and representing his hometown are the main reasons he signed.

Hopefully, I’m playing that rugby next year,” he says.

“I ‘ll always be a Mako over any other provincial side, because this is where I’ve been bought up.

“This is a team I have always been able to talk too. If I get to play for them next year I’ll be happy.”

ALL SMILES: James with Wellington players (from left) John Schwalger, Victor Vito (front), Jeremy Thrush and Neemia Tialata.

ALL SMILES: James (centre in blue) with Wellington players (from left) John Schwalger, Victor Vito (front), Jeremy Thrush and Neemia Tialata.

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is a journalist in the making, with the aim to become a sports journalist. He enjoys all sports especially rugby league.
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