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Buoyant Bowe confident Best may still have role to play Down Under

TOMMY BOWE'S delight at being selected for his second Lions tour was tempered by the news of Rory Best's omission.

"Everyone in Ireland sympathises with Rory," said Bowe. "He is a tremendous player and I know he will be so disappointed at missing out."

The Ulster and Ireland winger had himself harboured genuine concerns that he might be overlooked after missing Ireland's Six Nations campaign because of injury.

He has since made an impressive return to the Ulster team, but admitted to being a nervous wreck yesterday morning.

"I found it hard to concentrate in training," he laughed. "It certainly wasn't ideal to miss the Six Nations campaign through injury and that absolutely put me at a disadvantage.

"But to be selected after playing so little rugby is a huge boost of confidence. It is great that the coaches have so much faith in me. I'm thrilled."

Bowe was genuinely saddened at Best's plight, but he expects to see his Ulster and Ireland team-mate in Australia at some stage.

"We weren't together when the squad was announced. The forwards were off doing their thing and I was kicking. I only heard when I came off the pitch.

"Rory had hoped to be picked and, of course, he'll be frustrated.

"But there are always injuries with the Lions, sometimes even before the squad leaves. I am fairly confident Rory will be on the list of stand-by players."

Bowe will celebrate his call-up by playing for Ulster in their game against Cardiff Blues on Friday night and, like Munster's Paul O'Connell, wants to cram as much rugby into the rest of the season as he can.

"I need game time after my lay-off. There are potentially three games left in Ulster's season and, hopefully, I will play as much of those three games as is possible.

"The two Wales wingers are the favourites to start the first Test at this stage, but the confidence of being selected is a huge motivation for me. I enjoyed the 2009 tour so much. It was surreal to play in the Tests and I would love to be a part of a winning series."

Irish Independent