Six Nations: Tommy Bowe out to ground his Ospreys pals
Ireland’s Tommy Bowe has no regrets about his decision to leave Ulster in the hope of boosting his career in Wales.
Since joining Ospreys just over two and a half years ago he has enjoyed phenomenal success, both as an individual and as a team member. Seemingly he can do no wrong.
This evening’s Welsh starting line-up at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will feature eight of his club mates. There will be two more Ospreys on the bench ready to join the fray should former Ireland coach Warren Gatland choose to introduce them.
Knowing the opposition players as well as he does, Bowe probably appreciates their qualities more than any other member of the Irish side.
That being the case he has warned them that Wales are up for this evening’s battle.
Bowe said: “Having come away with two wins in their last two games I think they will be a new team.
“They’ll be feeling very confident and looking for a scalp against us.”
One of those to whom he is closest at the Liberty Stadium is Shane Williams who, like himself, will wear the number 14 jersey. Bowe is a huge fan of his opposite number.
“Wales’ style of play suits him. He’s able to get himself into the position where he knows where the ball is going to be. He just seems to be one of those players who turns up in the right place at the right time,” Bowe points out.
“His scoring record for Wales is absolutely incredible.
“He just seems to be able to get on the shoulder of people making a break, get his hands on the ball and go into these holes.
“It’s certainly nice the Ospreys having him on my own team,” is the Irish maestro’s appreciative assessment of playing beside his Welsh pal.
So what makes Williams so very special?
“His style is very instinctive,” Bowe explains.
“As a small man he has to make up his game and has to vary it. He can’t be seen as one of these guys who’s just going to truck it up.
“He’s the type of winger that tall wingers hate to come up against because he’s so nimble and you don’t know if he’s going to either side of you, under your legs or what’s going to happen! He’s very hard to get hold of.”
As well as being a great player, Bowe highlights the fact that Williams is a good bloke.
“A really nice guy. For being one of the poster boys of Welsh rugby he’s really a quiet fella and very humble.
“Good squad man to have in your team,” is his summary.
Another of the Ospreys for whom he has real respect and regard is former club captain Ryan Jones who has skippered Wales in the past, too.
“He’s been playing in the second row which is a new position for him.
“People maybe wrote him off but he’s been doing a lot of the hard work and a lot of the rucking.
“He’s a very good ball carrier as well so he’s obviously a big leader for them having been Welsh captain how many times?
“He’s very strong mentally. He takes a lot of criticism sometimes but he’s one of those players who always seems to come back again.
“He lost the Welsh captaincy, he lost the Ospreys captaincy and all of a sudden he’s having the best season he’s had in a long time.
“You have to respect that.”
Having Bowe on board has helped Irish coach Declan Kidney in trying to plot Wales’ defeat. To what extent has his opinion been sought?
“I would know the individuals quite well but having played for Gatland and Shaun Edwards with the Lions there’s a lot of boys within the Irish set-up who would know the type of plays they like to employ.
“But if I have a point I need to make it’s nice for me to be able to clarify things that I think they might try to do and it’s good to be able to do that,” Bowe adds.