Familiar faces set to line up against the All Blacks

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Former Hurricanes and Blues halfback Jamison Gibson-Park, former Chiefs and Tasman wing James Lowe, both Maori All Blacks, and midfielder Bundee Aki all had strong games in Ireland's 60-5 win over Japan at the weekend.

 

It was Gibson-Park's 11th Test, and coach Andy Farrell was impressed with his display.

 

"I thought he was excellent. I said during the week that he's flourishing in this environment now. There are quite a few boys that we talked about last week that are quite young as far as experience is concerned at an international level.

 

"Jamison's certainly more comfortable in his own skin and knows now how to bring his own game to the table and if he does than then we all benefit," he said.

 

Former Hurricanes teammate TJ Perenara said Jamison-Park had been 'an awesome player' to play against and play with.

 

"He was one of the most gifted players I have played with, in every thing. Everything that guy touches often turns to gold. To see him come over here and be so successful at both the club level here and the international level has been awesome," he said.

 

Perenara said his game on Saturday, and the way he had played the last few years, he had deserved his spot in the Test side.

 

Lowe also made the most of his chance, achieving the most metres gained and making six offloads.

 

He had responded to what Farrell called 'a little bit of a wake-up call.'

 

"He went away and understood how he needed to prepare for international rugby. His preparation is through the roof in comparison to what it was before. He's learned the hard way.

 

"There's a few things that he needs to get better from today as well but his attitude is in the right place and I'm sure that will happen. But he finds a way into the game…he's in great nick, he lost a bit of weight and is fit," Farrell said.

 

Lowe said he had lost a little weight and was fitter.

 

"I did have a conscious effort. I thought 'how could I evolve my game, how could I evolve it more?' It was probably through being fitter," he said.

 

Lowe is keen to renew his acquaintance with several friends among the All Blacks.

 

"Some of my best friends are starters in that All Black team. I went to school with two or three. I played with a few of them when they were younger, and I said these kids are going to have a big future, and now they have cemented themselves in the 15.

 

"I looked after Anton [Lienert-Brown] when he was a kid. I spent a lot of time with Damian [McKenzie], Sammy [Cane], Brodie [Retallick], went to school with David [Havili] and Ethan [Blackadder]. I played with Finlay [Christie] and Will Jordan.

 

"The list goes on in terms of the people that helped me become a player through playing with them," he said.

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