Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

We're under pressure to deliver to fans, Tommy Bowe

Top gear: Tommy Bowe wants to repeat his Lions form for Ireland

Tommy Bowe fears that the Irish team is losing the battle for hearts and minds to the provinces after years of inconsistency.

While the Ulster wing is excited at getting started under new coach Joe Schmidt after being named in the New Zealander's squad for the November internationals, he said that the team needed strong results next month and this season to convince the public to back them.

Ireland won just one of their Six Nations matches this year, finishing second bottom in a campaign that cost Declan Kidney his job.

The team have struggled to back up big performances in recent seasons and Bowe acknowledged the frustration felt by fans, saying the players are under pressure to deliver.

"There is a huge onus on us," he said. "With the provinces going so well... I don't think the fans will ever support the provinces over the national team, but people might be getting fed up that we're pulling out big performances one week and then don't turn up the next.

"The focus is on consistency, and performance is the main thing we're looking to do with the Irish side.

"With three absolutely enormous matches and then the Six Nations, the pressure is on, but it is an exciting time as a player with the new coaches and the new set-up. The pressure is on to get picked and to produce."

The 29-year-old played a huge part in the Lions' series win over Australia in the summer, making it back from a broken wrist in time to play in the second and third Tests.

Bowe attended last month's training camp with new coach Schmidt and is looking forward to trying to replicate that success with the national team, starting with the Tests against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

"He likes to keep the ball in hand and get the wingers involved, so it is a very exciting time for Irish rugby, I'm very excited to be part of it as a winger," he said.

"The other thing is, with a new coach coming in you don't know what his approach is going to be and you don't know his thoughts about you as a player.

"There is a lot of competition for places throughout the squad, and especially in the back three it's massive, so the pressure will be on to impress him in the next couple of weeks.

"Hopefully, we'll play a bit of rugby and cause a few upsets for the southern hemisphere teams.

"It is just his attention to detail. The players are being pushed and pushed to really know their roles.

"That is what the players really felt after two training sessions, that everyone was on the money. If you weren't, you were pulled up on it."