Sunday 22 April 2018

Bowe straining at leash to make Force impact as Lions wing rival sets the bar high

Tommy Bowe
Tommy Bowe
Conor George

Conor George

TOMMY BOWE is determined to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by double try-scorer Alex Cuthbert when he makes his 2013 Lions tour debut against Western Force tomorrow night.

The Ireland winger watched in admiration as Cuthbert touched down twice in the second half against the Barbarians. He didn't need any reminder but it was informative to witness just how tough the competition for Test places will be this year.

"In the last tour we started off quite poorly and it made the guys go and lift the standard in the second game," recalled Bowe (right).

"This time around the standard has been set with the performance against the Barbarians. It's up to us now who have just come in to take that on and expand on it again."

Bowe was one of the standout players on the tour four years ago against South Africa and the experience of losing the series means his priorities and aspirations are very different this time around. He is interested only in being part of a winning tour.

"I was thrilled to be there four years ago, to be picked in the squad. This time my main priority is to get picked in the Test squad again – but a winning Test squad.

"That's been the message from the outset. Warren's here to do a job, to pick a team that will win the series.

"He wants to be 2-0 up and I think that's exciting for us as players because he's breeding that confidence into us. That's really shining through the squad."

Bowe spent a large part of the season worried he would run out of time to prove his fitness after having knee surgery – "I was bricking it," he said – but hopes that his freshness as a result of the lay-off will be in his favour. "I think having missed some of the season will be a huge bonus for a couple of us once we get our match fitness up.

"I've had a good few games under my belt and the other boys have too. As long as you can stay injury free we'll all be staying fresh."

Bowe will be joined by seven of his Ireland team-mates tomorrow night and is especially looking forward to playing alongside half-backs Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray.

"I think they're a very exciting nine and 10 (pairing) and it's a massive opportunity for the two of them to put their hands up for selection.

"It's their first real opportunity on the tour having played just 20 minutes against the Barbarians, but they're both absolutely world class players.

"The pressure is definitely on when you come into a tough environment like this, especially for those two key spots, but I'm sure they'll put their hands up against the Force."

Irish Independent

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