If Tommy Bowe sometimes had to pinch himself to be certain he wasn’t dreaming, that would be perfectly understandable.
Currently the Ospreys wing can do no wrong, witness last summer’s Player of the Tour accolade following the Lions’ trek to South Africa, with the encore coming in the form of a remarkable hat-trick of personal successes in the season now ending, namely Player of the 2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship and Professional Players’ Player of the Year in both Wales and Ireland.
To be voted the pick of the bunch by one’s fellow professionals in TWO jurisdictions is a quite remarkable double.
But then 26-year-old Bowe is a quite remarkable man who remains unchanged by the success he has enjoyed and the acclaim heaped upon him as a result of it.
Since leaving Ulster to join Ospreys two years ago — a decision he admts “wasn’t easy” — everything has fallen right into place for Bowe.
A haul of nine tries in his first season in Wales has been surpassed by 14 in his second.
Even then he might not have finished his scoring for 2009/10; tomorrow evening’s Magners League showpiece offers the modest Monaghan maestro a final opportunity to add to it.
With his try-scoring having dried up of late he would like that. His last touchdown was against Ulster at Ravenhill on April 13 since when he has drawn blanks in three successive outings against Munster, Dragons and Glasgow.
In truth, he isn’t unduly worried. But Leinster ought to be, for since joining Ospreys he has never gone more than three games without a try. So he is due one.
There is typical Bowe humour in response to being informed of that statistic.
“Is that true? Wow. I don’t like hearing that. That means the pressure really is on.
“I’ll just have to get a try this weekend,” he smiles.
They won’t need to be told that, of course, for those in the Irish club’s camp fortunate enough to have played alongside him at international level know only too well what he can do.
Take it as read, too, that they will have spent the past week reminding those who haven’t played in Bowe’s company of what they are going to face — blinding pace, great feet, wonderful balance, raw courage and real strength all complemented by an admirable work ethic. He is the perfect modern-day wing and a model professional who loves his job.
For that reason Bowe is looking forward to facing O’Driscoll, Sexton, Kearney and company.
“It’s going to be good. It’s a great way to finish the season with Ospreys in with a chance of winning silverware in the final match,” he says.
“As for that try-scoring thing, I’d be happy to go a fourth game without scoring if it meant us winning at the end of the day.”
He refutes any suggestion that with eight Lions and a trio of All Blacks on their books the Ospreys are under-achievers.
“There’s always an expectation with the Ospreys. Because we have this great squad everybody seems to think that we should be winning things and should be the best team around,” he explains.
“But we are still a very young side; we were only formed seven years ago and we’ve won two Magners Leagues in four years and the EDF Cup so I think that our record so far shows the Ospreys are a team who have gone places.
“At the minute we’re still very much in a building phase and this season we’re in the Magners League final with an opportunity to win silverware. We got to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, too, so it has been a very good season for us.”
Bowe acknowledges tomorrow night’s opponents’ pedigree and aspirations, too.
“Leinster, like ourselves, want to be winning things so it should be a good final,” he reasons. At a personal level he admits: “It’s been a great 12 months. Being with the Lions last summer was an amazing experience for me and that’s something I’ll never forget. It’s an opportunity I’ll always remember having had. It was great, bar the disappointment of the loss of the series. The tough thing was to try and keep the form going this season and the Ospreys were very good to me in that respect in giving me five weeks off. That really helped me refresh my head, so I’m feeling good now.”
The fact that he is set for one final fling will not be the news Leinster wanted to hear.