O’Connell gives Bowe hope

Tommy Bowe says Paul O'Connell's stunning return to form and fitness has given him added hope of making this summer's Lions tour to Hong Kong and Australia. [more]

O’Connell gives Bowe hope

Tommy Bowe says Paul O’Connell’s stunning return to form and fitness has given him added hope of making this summer’s Lions tour to Hong Kong and Australia.

Bowe was one of the stars of the last Lions adventure to South Africa but has spent much of the current campaign on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury in mid-December.

The Ireland wing finally made his comeback in Ulster’s defeat to Saracens on Saturday but has just two more games to make an impression on Lions coach Warren Gatland before squad selection on April 30.

Yet, while Bowe freely admits he has it all to do to impress Gatland this weekend and next, he says the manner in which 2009 Lions skipper O’Connell masterminded Munster’s Heineken Cup success at Harlequins just weeks after returning from a serious back problem is a huge boost.

“Yeah Paulie. . . I watched the match. He was outstanding in the game,” said Bowe.

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“He led from the front. It was an amazing performance from the Munster guys.

“Of course that gives hope to seize it . . . after the tough season that Paulie has had and to be able to come back and play to that high level, it was hugely impressive.

“Anybody who was on the last Lions tour would dream of getting themselves back on to this one as well.

“It is going to be difficult and it is very much out of my hands. I just need to try and show them and get as much game time as I can.”

Bowe certainly showed glimpses of his talents at Twickenham at the weekend despite the fact that his Ulster outfit were comfortably beaten in the last eight of Europe’s top club competition.

The former Ospreys star, who started the first two Lions Tests against the Springboks on the wing before switching to centre for the victorious third rubber in Johannesburg, certainly didn’t look like he had been out of action for four months.

“My leg felt very good. I was happy with the 20 minutes and will hopefully do a lot better over the next few weeks,” added Bowe.

“There was a bit of an adrenalin buzz.

“I think when I came on to the pitch I got a box kick straight away that got me straight into the game.

“On the wing you can spend a long time chasing around and never get your hands on the ball.  I’ve done it so I was delighted to get straight into it and I felt great.”

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