Tommy Bowe: The strings to Ospreys' utility back

After surprisingly quitting Irish rugby last season, Ireland's Tommy Bowe is enjoying a new lease of life at the Ospreys

Just a year ago Tommy Bowe felt his world had fallen apart. Having been left out of Ireland's 30-man World Cup squad bound for France, the Ulsterman could only watch with horror from his home in Belfast as Eddie O'Sullivan's side crashed out of the tournament at the pool stages.

To make matters worse, Brian Carney, the former rugby league star player picked ahead of him, had been a fringe player through the tournament.

Bowe could have been forgiven for thinking that his international career was over at the tender age of just 23.

Despite scoring on his Ireland debut against the USA in 2004 and winning caps against Japan, Argentina, Italy and France, Bowe returned to the international wilderness in February 2006 after a poor game in Ireland's Six Nations defeat in Paris.

Although he was recalled for Ireland's second string tour of Argentina in June 2007, an injury ended it prematurely and then came the bitter disappointment of missing out on a World Cup place to Carney.

But coaches often say you learn most about a player during the tough times, and Bowe's reaction to the biggest setback of his career has revealed a teak-tough character that is masked by his easy-going manner off the pitch.

"It was a horrible time," recalls Bowe. "Before the summer tour of Argentina I was thinking if I put two good performances in here hopefully I should be going to the World Cup and I spoke to Eddie (O'Sullivan) about it.

"But unfortunately I hurt myself in the first match and it didn't go the way I wanted it to do so. I didn't get the nod anyway and I was really disappointed.

"I didn't know whether to be annoyed or frustrated or what to do. What can you do? Mark McCall (the then Ulster coach) told me if I wanted to play to get back on the horse again."

Get back on the horse he did. And despite Ulster's horrendous season, his regular eye-catching performances helped to win back his place in the Ireland squad during last season's Six Nations.

He also produced a shock of his own when he announced he would be leaving Ulster after five seasons to join the Ospreys and by the end of the season had received the greatest accolade any player seeks: recognition by his peers.

Bowe beat off stiff competition from Leinster No.8 Jamie Heaslip and Wasps scrum-half Eoin Reddan to win the Irish Rugby Players Association Players' Player of the Year award.

And having made a flying start to his Ospreys career this season, the 24-year-old is not only looking like a definite start for Ireland during the autumn Test series as new coach Declan Kidney takes his bow, but the 6ft 3in, 15st giant is being mentioned as a potential Lions candidate.

Bowe equalled the Magners League try-scoring record with a touchdown against Ulster in the 43-0 rout at the Liberty Stadium in September, taking his tally to 30, while he also crossed the whitewash for tries against Cardiff Blues and Harlequins after only five appearances for the Ospreys.

"Even in the previous Ireland regime I found it astounding how they could keep Tommy out for so long," said Ospreys coach Sean Holley.

"He is a shoe-in for me in the Ireland team. He's on form, he is young, he is fit, he is versatile, defends well and is good in the air."

Holley's mention of versatility is reference to his decision to switch Bowe from right wing to outside centre, and Declan Kidney will have taken note. "I have most of my experience on the wing but I always wanted to play full-back or centre while I was at Ulster and when I came over here, one of the main things I discussed with the coaches was if I could have a go," says Bowe.

"I am more than happy to get a run at 13 and get the opportunity to add to different areas of my game. Obviously I play most of my rugby on the wing but it is great to be able to mix it up.

"Obviously I have no regrets coming here at all and I am looking to move on to bigger and better things."

Holley's decision to move Bowe to the midfield was as much about accommodating the burgeoning talents of wingers Shane Williams and Nikki Walker into the Ospreys backline as well.

But rather than find the competition for places intimidating, Bowe says it was just what he wanted to bring a new edge to his game after five seasons with Ulster.

"The thing that attracted me to the Ospreys in the beginning is that you have to turn up on Monday morning and fight for your position every week," adds Bowe.

"I am not being big-headed or anything but I was always confident enough that I would be playing every week with Ulster.

"But over here at the Ospreys, it is a different story. You have to bust your ass on a Monday morning to try to show what you are worth in training and if you don't perform at the weekend, you don't expect to be playing the following week."

Although firmly an Ospreys player now, Bowe admits he still keeps an eye out for Ulster's results.

And although Matt Williams' side have endured tough starts to their Magners League and Heineken Cup campaigns, he believes the Ravenhill outfit are heading in the right direction.

"You don't turn into a bad team overnight," he says. "Ulster won the Magners League a couple of years ago, I was there, and I think there is just a bit of a lack of confidence with the players. I don't think they are far off."

This story was sourced from International Rugby News

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own