Bowe’s size gives Schmidt an old attacking option

Joe Schmidt never had a Tommy Bowe. Of course as Clermont backs coach he had Aurélien Rougerie and Julien Malzieu to thunder around the chess board that is his tactical rugby brain.

A Bowe piece can come in awfully handy in games like the following Saturday’s and the feared blackout of Sunday, November 24th.

The Ulster right wing will almost certainly be a central piece in the new Schmidt attack. But with Keith Earls and Simon Zebo crocked it is the other winger named today in the starting XV that will provoke most debate.

Both Schmidt favourites, either Dave Kearney’s rook or Fergus McFadden’s bishop will make the cut. And with Brian O’Driscoll edging towards fitness and doubts hovering over Jonathan Sexton’s condition, Bowe’s attacking attributes seem more important than ever.


"Clarity" is a word floating around Carton House this week.

Create holes
"Although things are simplified there are definitely areas that we can elaborate on and make space and create holes, which is definitely something that for me as a winger is exciting," said the 29 year old.

Things will clearly be working if Bowe appears off the shoulder of Sexton or O’Driscoll to breach Samoa’s thick blue line.

“Players all have a specific purpose,” Bowe continued. “There’s no point just clocking off. Whether you’re a dummy-runner or you’re getting the ball everyone has to be alive all of the time.

“I think that sort of urgency and intensity combined with the clarity has really pepped up the squad. Certainly in the last week or so training sessions have been really, really intense. As intense as I’ve ever remembered them.”

The voices heard on the outskirts of Maynooth have also been stripped down. Schmidt runs the offence, Les Kiss the defence and John Plumtree is honing the set-piece.

Rougerie began his international career as a winger before converting to centre but in a Bowe context that’s an issue to review on next summer’s tour of Argentina.

His size provides options in the air, through the centre or at the end of the line.

He has travelled a different path to the normal Ireland player. Three seasons at the then cash-rich Ospreys increased his value and he was one of the few Irishmen to return from the Lions tour in Australia with reputation enhanced on the world stage.

Today’s team will be littered with Leinster players – the props, a lock, two backrowers, possibly both centres, a winger and fullback – but any suggestion of favouritism is an irritant to Bowe.

“I wouldn’t imagine there’s going to be anybody picked because they’re from Leinster ahead of somebody else but for anyone who is picked it’s going to be because of form. That’s something Joe has reiterated, that form is something that he’s definitely looking at.”

He’s reminded of his last game for Ireland, beating Argentina in November 2012, when the dawn of a new era was too hastily hailed.

A truck load of casualties changed that quickly enough.

“Going into that Argentina game wasn’t really the best place to be. We felt under a lot of pressure but pulled out a big performance that day.

"It's a fresh start for me, because it's back into Irish camp, it's a new coach and I don't think many people will be thinking too much about last year's Six Nations. "