Tommy Bowe admits he’s playing catch-up in the race to bag a starting spot in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team for next month’s Guinness Series when Australia, Georgia and South Africa pitch up at the Aviva Stadium.
The Ulster winger has endured two injury-affected seasons and missed out on last year’s Six Nations win as well as the summer two-Test tour to Argentina but is back now with a full pre-season under his belt.
“There’s been a few one and two-day camps at the start of this season and if you miss out on one week — two days with Joe — you find you have to play catch up a little bit. He doesn’t wait for people. If you’re not on the ball, well, that’s your own tough luck.”
Bowe, who faces Leicester with Ulster this week in the Champions Cup, tried to play through his groin injury at the end of last season but finally succumbed to surgery in America during the off-season and declared the result was like having a “new leg”.
A regular for Ireland under Declan Kidney when fit, he admitted to feelings of frustration when watching the national side last year, when Dave Kearney and Ulster colleague Andrew Trimble benefited from a host of injuries to the stock of wingers.
Bowe is one of those players who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the number 13 jersey left vacant by Brian O’Driscoll but it doesn’t seem to be a switch that has exercised him of late.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing 13. I enjoy playing on the wing, I enjoy playing from 13-15, it broadens your skill range. It mixes things up for you but the last two years I’ve had a fairly frustrating couple of years. I’m happy just to be playing.
“If I’m on the wing, I’m delighted to be playing there. I played one game at centre last year and I hope maybe I’ll get the opportunity to play a few more. But, at the minute, I’m concentrating on just nailing down my place on the wing.”
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