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Bowe Ready For Ireland Return

Bowe Ready For Ireland Return

After missing Ireland’s triumphant Six Nations campaign and the summer tour to Argentina, Ireland winger Tommy Bowe is set for his first Test appearance since last’s November defeat to the All Blacks.

A groin injury saw Tommy Bowe miss the Six Nations title-winning run but he is in line to return against South Africa in Saturday’s GUINNESS Series opener at the Aviva Stadium.

The Monaghan man played against the Springboks two years ago in a game which Ireland led 12-3 before losing 16-12, but he feels the ‘Boks have changed significantly since then.

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“I feel great to be back involved. I’m glad to be back in camp, back in the environment. It’s difficult obviously having missed the Six Nations and missed the summer tour last year,” he admitted.

“It’s hard to watch whenever you are at home. You want to be there. I just enjoy being back here (at camp in Carton House) and will hopefully be involved this weekend…look to try and impose myself on the game.

“I think that South Africa played quite a lot more rugby (against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship). There are obviously renowned as a hard, physical side, they rely on bullying teams.

“This time round they have shown with the likes of Cornal (Hendricks), (Willie) le Roux, JP Pietersen, these guys can run with the ball. They’re dangerous, as is Francois Hougaard. Being a back-three player you are going to have to be on the ball.”

South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer has put his own stamp on the Springboks’ play almost three years into his four-year reign. Their willingness to run from anywhere will provide an added threat should Bowe and the Irish back-line lack precision in their kicking and chasing.

“If you kick badly to them, give them time on the ball, that’s where they will punish you. They have players who can attack, run hard but they’re also not afraid to chip the ball in behind you.

“There are threats all over the pitch. I think our defensive line is going to have to be solid. Whenever you get to international rugby that’s a non-negotiable. Certainly against South Africa it’s going to have to be top notch.”

With Bryan Habana on one wing and Hendricks – who scored three tries in the 2014 Rugby Championship – on the other, Bowe knows the scale of the challenge Ireland are facing.

The Ulster ace was part of the last Irish team to beat the Springboks at Croke Park in November 2009 and also featured for the British & Irish Lions in their 2009 third Test victory over South Africa.

Five points or less has been the margin of victory in the nations’ last three Test meetings – Ireland winning one – and Bowe is expecting anther tight affair on Saturday evening.

“He (Habana) is an intelligent player. He’s obviously got the physical attributes, incredibly quick, good hands. I think he’s smart, he sniffs out opportunities.

“I think people might think it is lucky that you are in the right place at the right time to sniff out tries. It takes brains to be in the right place and know where the ball is going to be – he’s made a living out of it. He’s a smart player in attack and defence.

“I have always enjoyed the matches (against South Africa). We beat them in the (Lions) third Test and also once with Ireland.

“They are a team that we have always been close (against) – it has always been a one-score match against them, so I know this weekend it is going to be hard-fought, very tight and hopefully we can come out the right side of it.”