Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Rugby World Cup: Bowe keeps guard up ahead of Russian clash

Tommy Bowe claims the Ireland players have already forgotten about last weekend’s epic 15-6 over Tri Nations champions Australia and are looking ahead with the belief that they can challenge any of the World Cup contenders.

“We have settled back into normal World Cup mode. We haven’t really looked at that game for a couple of days and we’ve kind of forgotten about it at this stage,” admitted the winger.

“It obviously improves morale around the squad, the happiness levels, but we had a couple of days off there where the boys were able to get out, enjoy themselves or take it easy and rest up, and go off and do a few of the activities on offer here. That’s important.

The former Ulster star added: “Of course beating the Aussies gave us a huge amount of confidence, but I think within the team there just seemed to be something building for the whole week.

“A couple of weeks ago one of the Irish players was on the phone to a mate of his over in New Zealand and he was telling him how we will beat the Aussies, and your man on the other end of the phone didn’t quite believe it.

“There has been that positivity and that feeling the whole way leading up to that game, and it was nice to go out and do it.

“We can give anyone (in the World Cup) as good a go as we can. We lifted our intensity hugely for the weekend but it’s huge for us now not to let ourselves down.”

“We have to respect ourselves as a team and not peak with a huge match like that and then drop it for a match like Russia or Italy.

“That’s the baseline, the platform set, and the pressure will be on us to try and keep to that now.”

After missing pre-season and the early August warm-up games with a troublesome foot injury, Bowe has had a solid start to the World Cup, overcoming early handling difficulties against the US to bag two tries and following that up with a sharp display against the Wallabies — although he was unable to crown it with a an intercepted runaway try.

Feeling he is approaching battle-speed once again, Bowe is desperate to see action again this weekend against Russia, confident he will have recovered from the bang on the calf he received against Australia.

“I’m feeling good,” said Bowe. “I still feel that I want to get more game-time, having missed out on quite a lot of pre-season and the matches. I feel I’m building up nicely but I just want to get as much game-time as I can.

“I don’t think there are very many people within the squad who don’t want to play this weekend. We’re on a bit of a roll at the moment and you don’t want a weekend off for fear you would lose that.”

Meanwhile, Ronan O’Gara insists he wants to continue playing for Ireland and will get the chance to prove his worth after Declan Kidney names his side to face Russia.

Following Ireland's heroic victory over Australia last weekend, an emotional O'Gara appeared to suggest he was about to call time on his distinguished international career when saying he was “done with Ireland in a few weeks”.

But yesterday O'Gara said: “Retirement has crossed my mind plenty of times over the last few years. I'm a fighter and I'll keep fighting until the end. I'm not sure when that is. Playing for Ireland means so much you don't walk away until it's right.”

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