Bowe admits he's playing Ireland catch-up but 'new leg' helps Ulster's cause
IRELAND wing Tommy Bowe admits he is playing catch-up with Joe Schmidt as he looks to win his place back after almost a year out of the national team.
The Lions star has not featured for his country since last November's defeat to New Zealand, missing the Six Nations with a troublesome groin injury and sitting out the summer tour in order to correct the problem.
He travelled to Philadelphia to correct that problem and now feels on top of his game thanks to his "new leg", but acknowledges that the nature of Schmidt's stewardship means he has missed an important amount of time under the coach whose camps are pivotal to developing Ireland's game plan.
Bowe can draw comfort from the fact that the team that lost to the All Blacks formed the core of the side for the season, with only himself and Sean O'Brien losing out through injury. Having watched his team-mates lift silverware, he is determined to make up for lost time next month when South Africa and Australia visit Dublin.
"There's been a few one- and two-day camps at the start of this season and if you miss out on one week, two days with Joe, you find you have to kind of play catch-up a little bit," Bowe admitted at an event to promote the Guinness Plus App yesterday (right). "He doesn't wait for people. If you're not on the ball, well that's your own tough luck.
"The southern hemisphere teams will be wary coming here. They'll all have seen what happened in the New Zealand match. We're current Six Nations holders so they're going to be wary of us. It's a great opportunity for us to put another marker down. Certainly, if you know Joe, he'll be going for three wins out of three.
"Definitely, that's our goal.
"With the Guinness series coming up and the Six Nations, having England and France at home, it gives us a massive opportunity with the World Cup there at the end of it.
"It bodes well for Irish rugby and it's great to be, hopefully, fit enough to get back into it again".
Bowe's primary job is to perform with Ulster who kick off their European campaign away to Leicester Tigers this weekend, a team Ulster knocked out of Europe last season.
"It's almost a seasonal fixture for us at the moment," he said. "There's a bit of history there and I'm sure they will be licking their lips at the thoughts of us going back to Welford Road.
"We beat them over there last year and we know it's doable. They have been a little bit indifferent at the start of the season, but at Welford Road they're going to be really up for this game.
"It's not going to be easy, but we're very confident going over there we can get a result."
And the Lion believes he is approaching his top form just at the right time.
"Physically, I feel great. I am still playing myself into form but I'm happy with where I am at the minute."