Irish Rugby

Lowe keen to play against All Blacks

Lowe, 29, celebrated his international recall by scoring the opening try as Ireland thrashed Japan 60-5 in last weekend's autumn opener in Dublin.

The former Maori All Blacks player now hopes to retain his starting place for this weekend's Aviva Stadium game.

"Some of my best friends are starters in that All Blacks team," said Lowe.

Lowe enjoyed close relationships with the likes of Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie, Samisoni Taukei'aho and Brodie Retallick, while he, David Havili and Ethan Blackadder each attended Nelson College.

Sam Simmonds makes cut but Bundee Aki is the shock Lions bolter

Simmonds, the Exeter number eight and current European player of the year, has been picked by Gatland despite being consistently overlooked by England since winning the last of his seven caps in 2018.

He is joined by fellow bolters and centres Bundee Aki of Ireland and Scotland’s Chris Harris, with Manu Tuilagi left out as he approaches his comeback from an Achilles injury.

However, Sexton is unable to force his way into the 37-man squad announced by Gatland, as are Jonathan Davies, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola and Josh Navidi.

Irish Rugby postpones Italy game

The game was scheduled to take place in Dublin on March 7 with thousands of Italian supporters, many from the regions most affected by the outbreak, expected to make the trip.

There have been no confirmed reports of coronavirus in Ireland.

"We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look to reschedule. I would hope to have an update on that in the coming days," IRFU chief executive Philip Browne told reporters after a meeting with the health minister.