Talented Tommy Bowe is finally putting selfie first
With the start of Ulster's competitive season now just over five weeks away, Tommy Bowe is hoping that the 2014-15 campaign brings him a long overdue change of fortune.
Since re-joining his native province from Ospreys in 2012, the Ireland and Lions wing wizard has been dogged by injury problems which have conspired to seriously restrict his time on the pitch.
He has missed much of the past two seasons, with lengthy spells on the sidelines also having cost him inclusion in Ireland's 2013 and 2014 Six Nations series and June's Argentina tour.
Speaking after last night's launch of Ulster's new kit at Ravenhill, Bowe expressed the hope that 2014-15 proves rather more successful for him, not least since with a World Cup looming in October 2015 he has lost considerable ground in the Irish pecking order.
"Unfortunately I'm not in the driving seat any more, I'm playing catch-up," he admitted.
"The likes of Andrew (Trimble) are playing fantastically well. Fergus McFadden, Dave Kearney, Simon Zebo – these guys have got the jersey at the minute.
"I suppose I have to be selfish in a way and if I want to be playing my best rugby I need to do whatever I need to do to be at my best."
He is relishing the challenge, however.
"It just brings great excitement for me," he said.
"I have a goal to try and achieve and I'm looking forward to trying to do it and playing the best rugby that maybe I've played in a couple of years."
Having undergone summer surgery to rectify his troublesome groin problem, Bowe is upbeat about his state of fitness now.
"I had an operation on my groin just to fix it pretty much from last year. I was struggling throughout the season and that was really the reason why I didn't go on tour.
"I had that and so far I'm feeling better than I have in probably over six months. I've finally got a bit of a smile on my face; it's been a tough time since November last year.
"So, feeling good – almost 100 per cent – and looking forward to getting going. New season and hopefully injury-free."
In addition to feeling better than has been the case for some time, the arrival of Les Kiss as interim coach at the Kingspan Stadium has added a spring to Bowe's step. He is a huge fan of the Australian, having worked with him at Ireland level.
"Les Kiss comes with a reputation that makes the players within (the) Ulster (squad) look up to him and get excited," said Bowe.
"As soon as he came in you just got a bit of an air of enthusiasm," he revealed.
"Attention to detail... he doesn't allow small mistakes; he likes to keep us on our toes.
"And I think, from an Ulster point of view, that those small mistakes were what cost us in big games in the last couple of seasons.
"If we can cut those out then we'll take on any team in Europe," maintained Bowe.
As for his personal reaction to the appointment, Bowe said: "The powers that be made the decision, but certainly when I was first made aware of it I was very excited.
"For an interim coach of that sort to come in, you couldn't find a better person and I'm sure Ulster would be delighted to keep him on long term."
Ulster kick off away to the Scarlets on the first weekend in September.