Bowe: Confidence could be an issue for World Cup
Tommy Bowe believes there is a danger that Ireland could suffer a Six Nations hangover leading in to the World Cup.
Although Joe Schmidt's side will play four warm-up games ahead of their departure for Japan, Bowe is adamant that they are not the kind of games that allow players to play themselves back into form.
Ireland dipped below their lofty standards during the Six Nations and despite Leinster ensuring that the season finished on a winning note, there are concerns about the manner of the performances in the defeats to England and Wales in particular.
"Yeah, I think there is," former Ireland winger Bowe said, when asked if he feels that dent in confidence could be an issue.
"The Six Nations has rattled the supporters, it has rattled all of us. That Welsh match was not something any of us were expecting to see, particularly the nature of the performance.
"I don't know whether there is a bit of mental fatigue and a few weeks off will certainly do them all a lot of good.
"Unfortunately, these games are going to be very difficult.
"The Six Nations was that opportunity to finish on a high, that Welsh match was the perfect opportunity.
"It went the opposite direction but the good thing about Joe Schmidt as a coach, the training sessions and the work that's done on the training field can almost be picked up and put on a pitch.
"In terms of a confidence point of view, it's game-time. The guys maybe need to play, the people who are feeling under pressure.
"As a player, I always had to play myself back in to form and you need a few games to find that. But unfortunately for some of the older players, it's about trying to find the games to get themselves back in to that form again."
Schmidt named his extended 44-man World Cup squad last week and while it was largely along expected lines, there were a few eyebrows raised when Ulster's Stuart McCloskey was left out.
Bowe insisted that his former team-mate merited inclusion.
"I was surprised Stuart McCloskey didn't get the nod," Bowe, who is an Aviva ambassador, added.
"I think he's had an outstanding season this year. Rory Scannell to get in ahead of him, I don't know if Joe wants to have more of a ball-player than he has.
"Maybe when he first came down to Ireland camp, he came in and I'm not too sure whether Joe didn't think that he maybe showed the enthusiasm he needed.
"But I think that certainly in my last season he came in with a new attitude, he trained all through the summer, he came in with a real spring in his step.
"Listen, Joe has an idea of what he wants, he'll tailor his squad around that, and unfortunately Stuart's face hasn't fit. We'll see what will happen."