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Bowe flying for club and country

By Micheal McGeary

Tommy Bowe’s stature has changed dramatically since he last faced Italy in the RBS Six Nations.

He scored a try that afternoon but that was only a taste of what was to follow.

Since then there was the small matter of a try against Wales in the Grand Slam decider in Cardiff as well as a starring role with the Lions in South Africa.

There were suggestions earlier in the season that he might return to Ireland once his contract with the Ospreys expired.

But the reality is that Tommy was more than happy to extend his career in Wales.

He said: “My game has definitely improved since going to Wales and that’s down to confidence as much as anything else.

“I always felt I had the ability and I showed glimpses of that when playing for Ulster which I really enjoyed.

“But I suppose there were times when I stayed out on the wing and didn’t go looking for the ball.

“And that was one thing the Ospreys set about changing once I went over there.”

The sight of Shane Williams and Nicky Walker running all over the place soon encouraged the Monaghan man to become more involved.

In the last year he has played quite a bit in the centre with the Ospreys, as well as full back.

Only two weeks ago, he joined a rare group of players to have scored in each round of the Heineken Cup pool stages.

Now living in an apartment on a new development close to the water’s edge, life couldn’t be better.

Despite all his heroics with both Ireland and the Lions he rarely gets recognised which is an added plus.

“The Lions tour of South Africa was fantastic. It’s arguably the greatest honour a player can have apart from winning the World Cup,” he added.

“It was right up there with anything I might ever achieve as a rugby player, but the downside was letting the series slip through our fingers. All the ingredients necessary to win the series were there, but it just didn’t work out and that was hugely disappointing.

“But I still had the time of my life and it was an experience I’ll never forget as long as I live.

“As a player I was really challenged, but thankfully I came up to the mark taking my game to a different level.”

Bowe finds it difficult to take in the impact of the Grand Slam success. Everyone, it seems, is an expert when it comes to rugby.

The priority for Bowe and his colleagues is to come away with another Six Nations, but for now the whole focus is victory over Italy at Croke Park.

“A win in Croke Park is crucial in that it would give us some momentum early in the season and that was vital last season,” he said.

Tommy’s younger brother, David, is currently at university in London playing number 10 for Imperial College hoping to follow in Bowe the elder’s footsteps. When the dust finally settles on another Six Nations Tommy will return to the Ospreys and the prospect of some overdue Heineken success.

“We were in a very difficult group along with both Leicester and Clermont,” he said.

“It was always going to be a case of one very talented side having to miss out.”

It was a huge blow to Bowe when he missed out on selection for the 2007 World Cup. The fact that Ireland didn’t perform was absolutely no consolation.

“This time I wanted to give myself the strongest chance possible,” he stressed.

“Coming back to Ireland might have helped me from some perspectives, but from a rugby point of view, staying with the Ospreys was important for me.”

It clearly helped that there is now a much greater understanding of the wish for Irish players to play abroad, especially if as Bowe’s case proves, that a player can heighten his contribution to the national cause by moving abroad.

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