Tommy Bowe can’t wait to get his second British & Irish Lions adventure well and truly underway this Wednesday having thought he might out miss out on selection altogether during the spring.
Bowe will start the Lions’ second tour match against the Western Force in Perth on the right wing as Warren Gatland’s men look to kick on from Saturday’s eight-try thumping of the Barbarians.
The Ulster and Ireland star sat out the Hong Kong fixture after representing his province in the RaboDirect PRO12 final a week earlier but now gets the opportunity to show his class once more four years after starting all three Tests for the tourists in South Africa.
It’s an opportunity Bowe feared he might miss out on after spending four months on the sidelines with a knee injury in the lead up to selection and now he’s determined to make the most of a chance that could so easily have passed him by.
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been leading up to a competition or tournament or team announcement. The day that the squad was announced, I was bricking it,” said Bowe, who starts alongside Leigh Halfpenny and George North in the back three at Patersons Stadium.
“Having only played two, two-and-a-half games wasn’t the ideal way to put your hand up for selection. But I was delighted to be announced and I’m looking forward to a huge tour.
“I’m really excited. I’ll obviously get a little taken aback by the amount of media attention and the crowds – I’m sure the crowds will start flocking in when we get over to the east coast – but, with it being my second tour, I’ve kind of been there and seen it and will be able to take it all on board and enjoy it.
“It’s not been an anxious wait at all (to start playing) but it’s obviously difficult to watch the guys play against the Barbarians and go so well – you want to be a part of it.
“But it’s only really been a week that I’ve been in camp because of the Rabo final so it’s been very much about trying to get up to speed, catching up on all the calls, getting into the shape and getting to know everybody.
“It’s been a fairly full on week so far and I’m looking forward to getting a bit of game time this Wednesday.”
Bowe hopes to get more than just some game time, too, with the 27-year-old confident that he’ll see plenty of ball on his first outing of the tour.
The Lions displayed an obvious keenness to keep ball in hand against the Baa-Baas and Bowe says that attitude has also been apparent during training in the build up to their opening Australian fixture.
“So far in the week that I’ve been involved, with the heat that there was in Hong Kong, the running has been pretty extensive, with the wingers trying to get involved, the backs trying to move the ball wide and the forwards having to work very hard,” added Bowe.
“We’re coming over here to play a good game of rugby and an expansive style of rugby. Hopefully that will mean me getting lots of ball in hand and maybe a few tries.”