Tommy Bowe’s undeniable form for Ulster has helped him win back his place in the Ireland team. The Monaghan-born winger’s recall has been welcomed by a number of players this week, including scrum half Eoin Reddan.
In previous seasons, Reddan himself has had to play second fiddle to Peter Stringer with both province and country but Wasps’ Heineken Cup-winning number 9 has been first choice for Ireland since the World Cup.
Speaking at the team hotel in Killiney, the Limerick man said: “We’ve all seen Tommy and how well he’s been playing for Ulster. He’s been very patient and very mentally strong in how he’s maintained his form even though he hasn’t been picked.
“I think that’s vital as a player in Ireland nowadays – you need to be able to stick to your guns and keep playing well. You can’t be saying ‘oh, I should have been picked’ and losing your form.
“Tommy’s been very, very mentally strong from that point of view. He’s a good example to follow of when you’re not getting picked, how to keep your form and then eventually you will get picked. Fair play to him.”
Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with Scotland will be Reddan’s fifth successive start for his country and the 27-year-old is expecting another tough encounter.
“It’s going to be a very intense game like every other game in the Six Nations. Scotland have a different back-line (with Rory Lamont and Simon Webster back and Chris Paterson in at number 10) so they’ll be producing different threats,” he insisted.
“It will be tough for us but we’re just looking forward to hopefully putting in a good performance and getting a win.”
So what does Reddan makes of Scotland coach Frank Hadden’s decision to start Paterson at out-half rather than Dan Parks?
“They might be a little bit more adventurous (the way the selection’s gone). Obviously you’ve got to cover everything at international level.
“You’ve got to play with your head up and see what happens on the day. I think Paterson is a bit more adventurous than Parks so we’ll have to be aware of that.”
Paterson’s goal-kicking ability could also put Ireland under pressure on the scoreboard so keeping the penalty count as close to it was in Paris – just one conceded – will be vital.
“I don’t know if it will ever be as low as that again but you do have to aim for as few penalties as possible, especially against someone of Paterson’s goal-kicking ability,” Reddan agreed.
The former Munster player feels this weekend’s game could be won and lost at the breakdown, an area the Scots are particularly strong in.
“They’re very good at the breakdown. They’re a big strong bunch of forwards. They will be very physical, as were the Italians and the French.
At this level you’re not going to come up against a pack that’s not physical. We’ve had to deal with that. It will be tough but we’ve put things in place to deal with that.”
As well as the return of Bowe and Mick O’Driscoll to the starting line-up, Munster captain Paul O’Connell has recovered from a lengthy back injury to take his place on the Irish replacements bench.
Buoyed by O’Connell’s return to fitness, Reddan admitted: “Obviously Paul is a great player, a great leader and a good friend. It’s great to see him around. It’s harsh on Mal (O’Kelly) but you’ve just got so many good players in that position at this stage.
It’s tough on him but it’s good to have Paul back and hopefully he’ll have a big impact on the squad.”
To listen to Eoin Reddan’s interview in full, please click here.