Tommy Bowe out to turn it all around for Ireland
Tommy Bowe had the Midas Touch last year. At club and personal level it seemed that everything came off for him.
He was voted the Welsh domestic players' player, the Irish international players' player and the Six Nations Player of the Year.
He was the Players’ Player of the Year in the Magners League where his seven touchdowns in the 2009/10 series included one in Ospreys’ 17-12 victory against Leinster in the Grand Final at the RDS.
In the circumstances his inclusion in the 2009/10 ML Dream Team was a formality.
At international level, however, things did not go quite so well. Ireland’s 33-10 defeat by France in Paris put paid to any thoughts of them repeating the Grand Slam heroics of 2009, following which Scotland’s totally unexpected 23-20 RBS 6 Nations victory at Croke Park meant no Triple Crown consolation either.
There followed four more reversals which began with the Barbarians beating Ireland 29-23 at Thomond Park — hardly the ideal platform from which to launch a three-match trip to New Zealand and Australia.
That went badly, too, with the All Blacks doling out a 66-28 drubbing, New Zealand Maori beating the tourists 31-28 and the Wallabies making it a miserable south-of-the-equator hat-trick by winning the June 26 Brisbane meeting 22-15.
Now Bowe is keen to see Ireland put that behind them, starting with a win against World Cup holders, South Africa, on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get back to playing the sort of rugby we did against England at Twickenham, and Wales in the Six Nations and South Africa this time last year — the sort of rugby that enables us to challenge and beat the best,” Bowe says.
“There’s not going to be any need for motivation at the weekend. Everything is there — the first international at the Aviva and against the world champions. What would just top that off would be a good victory.”
Although this marks the start of the countdown to the 2011 World Cup, Bowe insists the players are not looking that far ahead.
“There’s a huge amount of rugby to be played between now and the World Cup.
“What’s most on our minds is that we’re on a bit of a losing run that we want to turn around. If we’re going to be thinking in terms of doing anything in the World Cup then first we have to get back to winning ways. At this stage that’s the priority,” he stresses.
“That loss against Scotland was very disappointing when the Triple Crown was there for the taking. So were the Test defeats by New Zealand and Australia, as well as losing those two friendlies.
“So we need to get back to playing the rugby we know we’re capable of. We’ve still got all the players who were there (in 2009) when we were playing at our best so there’s no reason why we can’t get back to that standard.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong. The provinces are all doing pretty well in the Heineken Cup and Magners League so there’s not a whole pile missing.
“I think maybe we just need to get a wee bit of confidence back.
“A number of those who are chosen for Saturday’s match will have played together before and that makes it a bit easier to gel.”
His view of four back-to-back Tests is that it will help tighten and sharpen things.
“In these circumstances you’ve no option but to gel. A schedule as tough as this means the onus is on the players to put in the extra effort in training, when watching the videos or doing whatever else it takes in order to be ready when match day comes,” Bowe says.