Thursday 26 April 2018

Bowe aims to subdue Springboks early storm

Tommy Bowe will be hoping to help Ireland close the door on South Africa.
Tommy Bowe will be hoping to help Ireland close the door on South Africa.
David Kelly

David Kelly

As ever within an Irish camp in the build-up to a big game, there are mantras to be spun as much as for private absorption as for public consumption.

One recurring theme has been the way the team has been distancing itself from the IRFU's ticketing farce. It would have been encouraging had a little more empathy for the common man been demonstrated by professionals whose salaries extend into multiples of the average wage.

But then, as Declan Kidney and Brian O'Driscoll have confirmed in well-rehearsed tones, it's up to the team to do its stuff on the pitch; that in itself should ensure a full house once the IRFU clean up their marketing cock-up.

Bullying the South Africans will go a long way to guaranteeing that will happen this Saturday evening, as a fourth successive victory against the faltering world champions aims to buck Ireland's own recent run of poor results.

"Their game is based on physicality and bullying the opposition and if we don't match that, then we'll be sent back with our tails between our legs," is Tommy Bowe's stark warning.

"We're on our own pitch, so we're going to be the ones who want to bring that intensity and we're not going to be waiting for South Africa to just run at us. It's up to us to bring the game to them."

With South Africa's denuded back-line increasing the pressure on their pack and set-piece to create the platform for success, the Ospreys flyer knows that the Boks cannot be given the kind of start that has historically seen them terrorize opponents.

Even Bowe finds it almost impossible to ignore the memories from the opening quarter of 2009's extraordinary Lions series, when the Springboks pounced to stamp their authority on the Test.

"That was as brutal a first 20 minutes as I can ever recall. They came at us with an intensity that I'd never experienced before and I know they'll probably want to try and replicate that again.

"It's something that I've experienced and I know that after that 20 minutes, whereas we were maybe shocked a little bit, we then managed to come back into the game again.


"But we won't want to give them that 10 or 20 minutes of dominance like they had then.

"They start out of the blocks and it's very difficult to deal with, but the only way to deal with it, is to do the same thing to them."

Ireland's struggle for consistent winning results after the glories of 2009 would normally militate against such an approach, albeit the tourists appear to be a rabble as they arrive in Dublin today.

"We're a side who want to get back to winning ways with the World Cup looming," says Bowe.

"So we'd want to be getting back to the style of play that we had when we were beating the top teams in the world, like this time last year.

"We know what's at stake and we know they're on the back of a few losses, so it's a great opportunity to get another good win against South Africa. I don't think there will any negativity on our part.

"It's more of a challenge for us. The summer tour was obviously very disappointing, but the players are well over that and we're looking forward to the next stage."

Crucially, Bowe confirms that his side have mastered the attack-minded rule interpretations at the breakdown as they seek to develop their style of play.

"We're going to be playing with referee Nigel Owens this weekend and we've a couple of southern hemisphere refs over the next couple of weeks, so that style of rugby is one I definitely want to be involved in.

"We want to play a type of rugby where we're working the opposition hard and trying to get on the front foot and playing a bit of rugby."

If that happens, then Bowe and his Ireland colleagues could make the jobs of the marketing geniuses within the IRFU a tad easier over the next 12 months.

Irish Independent

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