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Respect: Leinster’s James Lowe rates Benetton

Respect: Leinster’s James Lowe rates Benetton

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Respect: Leinster’s James Lowe rates Benetton

Freddie McLennan wasn't a man naturally disposed to vanity.

So maybe it was desperation that drove him to a quite public display when his Ireland side were getting thumped by England at Twickenham in 1980.​

After a thumping tackle from John Carleton, the winger picked himself up but, rather than dusting himself down, proceeded to deploy his opposite number as a human mirror.​

"Is my hair alright?" he beckoned aloud to widespread merriment.​

We're reminded of this when a quite different winger, James Lowe, turns his head one way and his hair moves in entirely the other.​

The most enigmatic finisher in his sport is usually unflustered, but not today. He's lost his hair-tie. Not the most critical issue, perhaps; but more of an illustration that Leinster remain largely untroubled, and will be once more at Benetton tomorrow.​

A spanking bonus-point victory, allowing the Blues to create arguably the most impressive qualification statistics in the history of the Champions Cup, will be expected from Europe's most irrepressibly on-form combo.​

Lowe's struggles with his Samson-esque mane offer mild diversion; neither he, nor his team, seem vulnerable to any weakness.​

"Obviously it is awesome when you are winning. Coming to the end of 15 games on the trot and being unbeaten is lovely. But obviously we don't want to get to the end of the season and not win trophies," he says.

The neutral will presume an easy win but, with rotation needed and Northampton's complacency last weekend - coach Kris Boyd apologised for a reckless display even in victory - nothing will be taken for granted.​

"We know we've got a target on our backs, if we're on an unbeaten run or it's round one of a competition," he says.​

"People want to beat us. We've been at the top for a couple of years. We're a premier team in Europe.​ It doesn't matter what team turns up. They want to put a shot on us, that's for sure.​

"Benetton's results don't reflect the team they are. There is a lot of international quality sprinkled throughout it.​

"They have beaten us before. We have drawn with them. Every single game we have played against them, we haven't been able to put them away.​

"But it is all about us. If we can get in there and be clinical, get on top, stay on top, hopefully we can come away with the win."​

If they fail, now that would truly be a hair-raising experience.

Belfast Telegraph