Ireland winger Tommy Bowe believes head coach Joe Schmidt has changed the mentality of the squad for the better, as they looked to compete with the best teams in the world on a regular basis.
Following Ireland’s 29-15 victory over the Springboks, Tommy Bowe noted that the training implemented by Joe Schmidt, which is up there with Test match toughness, has given them that bit of consistency to kick on from last November’s dramatic loss to New Zealand.
Since then, Schmidt’s men have won the RBS 6 Nations title and beaten Argentina 2-0 in a two-Test summer series. Their latest success at the Aviva Stadium makes it seven wins in eight Tests since that reversal to the All Blacks.
“Joe has definitely changed the mentality. We believe we can take anyone on. I don’t think we ever questioned that before but in bringing that consistency in the way we train, maybe that brings it through onto the pitch and that is something maybe to help us get that little bit of an edge,” said Bowe.
“That consistency is something we’ve wanted to bring on. We’ve shown in the past – we beat Australia in the (2011) World Cup, we beat teams before – but it is doing it back-to-back.
“We’ve got a great win under our belts now but we have two big matches coming up in the next two weeks (against Georgia and Australia). If we can get three from three, which I’m sure Joe is looking to get, it will be a fantastic step forward for us.”
Bowe’s finishing skills were on show when he collected Conor Murray’s dinked kick, ahead of the retreating Bryan Habana, to score Ireland’s second try against the ‘Boks in the 72nd minute.
It came while South African replacement hooker Adriaan Strauss was in the sin-bin, and the 10-point push – topped off by a late Ian Madigan penalty – put Ireland out of sight.
The Monaghan man’s try was his 27th for his country, putting him just two behind former winger Denis Hickie who is second on the Irish all-time list behind Brian O’Driscoll (46).
For a player who has not played for Ireland since the All Blacks game owing to an injury-enforced absence, it was particularly pleasing return for Bowe.
“For me personally to be back in the Irish jersey is great. I relished the last couple of weeks of training. Training has been tough but we had a great focus going into the game this weekend.
“We were confident we could do the business and credit to the guys inside me, the line speed, the breakdown work and jumping on scrappy ball on the ground. They were excellent. That really took South Africa by surprise,” he added.
Ireland lost Chris Henry to a virus on Saturday morning and were also without key men Cian Healy, Rory Best, Sean O’Brien and Andrew Trimble through injury. But, even with a new centre partnership of Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw thrown into the mix, there was never a doubt in Bowe’s mind about the result.
“I don’t think we did doubt ourselves, to be honest. A lot of the guys who came in are top, top players. Jared Payne in his first camp, he’s a super ball player. He’s just got time and space.
“We didn’t get as much ball as we would have liked but from a defensive point of view and all week, we felt well drilled, we trained exceptionally well and we were up for it. We knew exactly what threat South Africa posed.”