belfasttelegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Bowe only sings when he’s winning

If there is a player phrase able to compete with the repeated references to the “breakdown battle” and “raising the bar” it is the squad-wide insistence that the Lions are “living the dream”.

Glib sound-bite to promote the concept of unity?

Perhaps, but it has been uttered with convincing authenticity and no-one typifies the phenomenon more than Ireland winger Tommy Bowe.

Consistently criticised in certain quarters of the Irish rugby media, Bowe's detractors have fallen silent in recent months during his rise to international stardom and cult status as he carried his Six Nations form and popularity to South Africa.

His rendition of ‘Black Velvet Band' at Ireland's Grand Slam celebrations may have been a moment of personal cringe as team-mates left him high and dry but it struck a chord with fans and the Monaghan man has also been blessed, or cursed, with a name that trips easily off the tongue.

It has led to the Lions supporters honouring him with his own song and it is undeniably catchy (“Tommy, Tommy Bowe” sung to the tune of “Daddy Cool”).

Supporters have also been spotted at matches with tops off and Bowe's name painted across their midriffs.

“I've heard them singing it, yeah, and it's cost me a lot of money, I promise you that,” he smiles, referring to the Lions' rather spurious fining system.

“It's nice to hear the supporters getting behind you, it adds to my confidence.”

Bowe is known for his laidback approach to big match build-up, has the enormity of today's challenge necessitated any change in preparation?

“I'll stick to what I always do, sleep on in the morning, have a bit of breakfast and just chill-out and have the craic with the lads.

“I don't listen to any special music or anything like that.”

And is he equally relaxed about the prospect of facing Bryan Habana?

“We've never played each other at senior level, although I think I played U-21 against him.

“I've watched Bryan play many times and he's one of the top wingers in the world.

“It's a huge challenge but I'm good enough to take on anyone. We've been written off and it's a nice way to go into it.

“We think we can prove the doubters wrong.”

Bowe, with his performances so far her, has certainly answered his own.

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