Thursday 21 September 2017

Bowe hails Gatland approach

Tommy Bowe, centre, was part of the British and Irish Lions squad that suffered a series defeat in South Africa
Tommy Bowe, centre, was part of the British and Irish Lions squad that suffered a series defeat in South Africa

Ireland wing Tommy Bowe has hailed the winning attitude and mentality of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.

Ulster star Bowe was a key performer on the Lions tour of South Africa four years ago, shining as a wing and centre. Few players could have done more with regard to trying to stave off a painful 2-1 series defeat. Bowe is now back for more after recovering from a serious injury earlier this season, and he is impressed with what he has seen.

"My main priority is to get picked in the Test squad, but I want to win. That has been the message from the outset," he said. "Warren is here to do a job, he is here to pick a team that's going to go and win the series. He wants to be 2-0 up (in the series), and I think that is exciting for us as players because he's breeding that confidence into us and I think it is really shining down throughout the squad."

The Lions have already vastly improved on their tour opener four years ago, smashing the Barbarians 59-8 in Hong Kong last Saturday, and Bowe is among the team entrusted with moving things up another level against Western Force on Wednesday.

He was part of a dozen plus group that joined the squad only nine days ago due to play-off final commitments, but he has wasted little time getting among things.

"The last tour we started off quite poorly and it made the guys go and lift the standard in the second game," Bowe added.

"This time around the standard has been set, and it's up to us now who have just come in to take that on and expand on it again. I think I'd say I have been very happy with how we've trained this week."

Bowe, meanwhile, is also backing his Ireland colleague Rob Kearney to keep battling the hamstring injury that has sidelined him on tour so far and given the Lions management cause for concern.

The injury - scans carried out in Hong Kong confirmed it as a grade one tear - means he was the only player among a 37-man squad who could not be considered for tomorrow's game.

"I think he's just disappointed, as you would be," Bowe said. "He wants to be involved and get training and playing. Unfortunately, it's taken a little bit longer than expected. But he has had a super end to the season, he's played some great rugby, he's coming in with lots of confidence and he will get his chance."

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