Ireland winger Tommy Bowe is proving pretty indestructible as he prepares to make his 155th appearance for his beloved Ulster when they take on Connacht this evening in Belfast.
Despite having succumbed to a multitude of injuries to both the upper and lower body, the 33-year-old from Emyvale in Monaghan, is proving that his firepower and enthusiasm is far from diminished.
Even the now infamous GPS tracking system, which you see sewed on to the back of a player’s jersey, doesn’t show any weaknesses in the happy-go-lucky Bowe’s armoury.
He will be going in search for yet another score for Ulster this evening after chalking up the first touchdown of the new PRO14 season when he skipped in for his 60th try in the opening game against the Cheetahs. Although he doesn’t say it, he still fancies adding to his 69 caps for Ireland, providing injury doesn’t pay him another visit.
Bowe, now a doting father of a six-month-old baby girl Emma, has had five serious injuries requiring surgery in the past five seasons. For comebackability, the man who scored that wonderful Grand Slam-winning try in Cardiff in March 2009, is surely right up there.
There is something about the Millennium Stadium that is both cruel and kind to Bowe. The latest injury was last March when he was brought on as an 80th-minute replacement against Wales and bizarrely his first touch ended with him breaking his ankle.
Before that in the 2013 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in Cardiff he needed a complete knee reconstruction which ruled him out of the entire following season.
Add the breaking of his wrist while playing for the Lions in Australia, then you realise his mental strength. Does he still have the enthusiasm?
“Absolutely! I’m really enjoying my rugby at the minute, enjoying training, enjoying playing and had a good pre-season under my belt,” said Bowe. “Thankfully my body has felt as good as it has felt for a long time, so it means I can give everything in training and in these games.
“Obviously I still want to score more tries too. I think I’m there or thereabouts. I’m getting myself in the right positions and maybe just a pass away. I’m happy to be on the pitch and it’s just to get the ball in the hands and the tries will come,” said Bowe who is encouraged by the statistics from GPS.
“I’m not the biggest fan of GPS. All this tracking you all over the pitch. But to be able to come back from an injury as you get older, and then people question those sort of speeds and acceleration to know that you still have it. The hard work during a pre-season pays off, so that’s definitely a bonus and a confidence booster for me. Hopefully I get to opportunities to get more open space in the upcoming games,” said Bowe who disregards those who may question his ability and writing him off at his age.
“ I think that whenever there’s players there like myself who have been around for a while, you deal about being written off. That comes with the territory. But it’s nice in that it’s something you can use as a bit of a carrot. You can use it as a motivation when you come back from an injury or when you are injured, you keep fighting to come back. So I don’t think it’s something that happens just in this country, happens in all sports in all walks of life.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved