Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says he wants James Lowe to "be himself" after recalling the Leinster winger.

Lowe starts on the left wing for this Saturday's opening Autumn Nations Series game against Japan at the Aviva Stadium, his first game for Ireland since being dropped at the end of the Six Nations.

The Leinster wing struggled for form in early 2021, before being left out of Ireland's final Six Nations game against England, and missing out on the summer Test wins against Japan and the USA due to injury.

And while the 29-year-old is yet to score for his province this season, he has been reinstated to Farrell's starting team for the opening international of the season, partnering Hugo Keenan and Andrew Conway in the back three.

"I have been impressed with how he has gone about dealing with the tough time that he went through," Farrell said of Lowe.

"He's had a good look at himself with regards to his preparation and I think it was a little bit of a shock for him first time up with the pressures and the scrutiny of international rugby. He has gone away, been very diligent and wanted to work on aspects of his game that we have asked him to, and there are improvements there.

"He gets his chance because of all that, to show us that he is the right man for the job. He is in great nick, he has lost a bit of weight, he has the bit between his teeth."

Farrell added that his instructions for the left winger will be simple this weekend.

"Just be himself, really," he said. "He is a guy that likes to find his way into the game constantly and that's what we want from our wingers.

"Andrew Conway does exactly the same, he has an ability within a system to find a way to get his hands on the ball. He is big and strong and hard to handle and he can be a link as a ball player as well, whether as first receiver or out the back, and he has a big left boot.

"We know all that, it's bringing it all to the arena on Saturday."

Farrell defended the make-up of his side to face Japan this Saturday, with 12 of the starting team being products of the Leinster academy system, with the remaining three being New Zealand-born and qualifying for Ireland on residency.

The head coach says in some cases this weekend's selection has been dictated by provincial game time, but says he will never allow geography to decide his selections.

"I've been on record before saying I would never do the squad a disservice by looking at who I’m picking in terms of who they play for," he said.

"It’s certainly not fair to the team or the squad and 100% not fair to an individual. We pick the team on merit, on what is right, and where the squad is at at that point in time."

Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan is the only potential debutant in the squad, with the 23-year-old named on the replacements bench ahead of Ulster's Rob Herring.

"I've seen what you hope to see when you work with somebody for the first time," Farrell says of Sheehan.

"Somebody who has come into a daunting environment and rolled his sleeves up and said, 'right, I’m gong to show I belong here’ and he has definitely done that.

"That’s what we’ve seen in the past with the likes of Hugo (Keenan), Caelan (Doris), Ronan Kelleher to a certain extent as well.

"Dan has come in and hit the ground running. Of course he has made his errors like everyone has. It's certainly not going to be perfect on the weekend for him but he has got the bit between his teeth and he is trying to show the rest of the squad that he belongs here."

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