Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, November 6
Bowe: We must bully back
November 4, 2010
Tommy Bowe wants an Ireland revival with the World Cup on the horizon © Getty Images
Tommy Bowe insists Ireland must replicate South Africa's "bullying" style if they are to stand a chance of matching it with the Springboks in their first autumn Test at the redeveloped Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Ireland wing Bowe issued a rallying call to his team-mates ahead of their four-Test campaign in an attempt to inspire a change in the team's fortunes. While it might be easy for Bowe to say, since he will avoid the full brunt of the Springboks forwards in his position out wide, he knows Ireland must be prepared to aim up in the physical dogfight if they are to launch a revival on Saturday.
Just a year ago, Ireland came into this period as Grand Slam champions before drawing with Australia and beating South Africa and Argentina. But they are currently on a five-match losing streak, three of them Tests, dating back to the final encounter of the Six Nations against Scotland. Bowe admitted the team is desperately seeking a victory with next year's World Cup on the horizon.
"We're a side who want to be getting back to winning ways with the World Cup looming," said the Ospreys winger. "We want to get back to the style of play we had when we were beating the top teams in the world like this time last year.
"We know what's at stake and we know they're on the back of a few losses so it's a great opportunity to get another good win against South Africa. The summer tour was obviously very disappointing but the players are well over that and we're looking forward to the next stage."
In years gone by the Springboks would have been viewed as daunting opposition, but three consecutive victories in the fixture has left Ireland expectant more than hopeful of success. Further improving their chances of starting the autumn in triumphant fashion is that the tourists have been robbed of 13 players through injury. Star names such as Bryan Habana, Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield remain, however, and Bowe refuses to underestimate any Springbok side.
"They have such a wealth of talent in South Africa, it's a religion for them," he said. "They've any amount of players coming through and I'd say no matter what injuries they have they'll still have a great squad. We don't really think about their injuries too much. I look at it as whatever side they're going to bring it's going to be a fairly physical, impressive team."
Bowe will be playing against the Springboks for the fifth time on Saturday with three of those appearances coming during last year's epic Lions series.
"South Africa's game is based on physicality and bullying the opposition," he said. "If we don't match that then we'll be sent back with our tails between our legs. The first 20 minutes of that first Test for the Lions was brutal. They came at us with an intensity that I'd never experienced before and I know they'll probably want to try and replicate that again. It's something that I've experienced and I know that after that 20 minutes where we were maybe shocked a little bit, we got back into the game.
"But we won't want to give them that 10 to 20 minutes of dominance like they had then. They start out of the blocks and it's very difficult to deal with but the only way to deal with it is to do the same thing. We're on our own pitch so we're going to be the ones who want to bring that intensity and we're not going to be waiting for South Africa to just run at us. It's up to us, on our own pitch at the Aviva Stadium, to take the game to them."
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