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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 9 March 2021

Tommy Bowe channels Skywalker spirit but Lions force is with Alex Cuthbert

The Welsh winger and fellow countryman Leigh Halfpenny were relieved when Kurtley Beale’s slip prevented a deja vu nightmare.

The Ulsterman strikes back: Tommy Bowe is fighting fit.
The Ulsterman strikes back: Tommy Bowe is fighting fit.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE GLOVE THAT Tommy Bowe unveiled at the Lions captains’ run was not just a Star Wars tribute — the winger’s damaged right hand has healed sufficiently and he is ready for a Test return.

The Ulsterman broke a bone in his hand against the Queensland Reds two weeks ago but is such a vital component in Warren Gatland’s squad that he was kept in Australia; undergoing intense rehab to regain movement and reduce discomfort. The Lions coach confirmed, following his team’s narrow First Test win, that Bowe is back in the mix for the Second Test in Melbourne.

Gatland said, “To have Tommy fit, and back, and Manu Tuilagi too, just shows the great contribution we’ve had from the medical and fitness staff.”

The Kiwi added, “We don’t think Jamie Roberts is too far away either. He was up and running last week and is potentially in contention for that Second Test.”

While Bowe may have expected to take the No.14 jersey for the First Test in Brisbane, Alex Cuthbert’s wonderful try against the Wallabies means the Monaghan native may have to cover the backline from bench next Saturday. The Welshman said:

We lost the last five or six games against Australia and a lot of it was down to late tries and last-minute penalties. To come out the other side and finally beat them is a great feeling.”

Asked about his try, which involved important contributions from Jonny Sexton and Brian O’Driscoll, Cuthbert revealed it was a backline move that Wales’ caretaker coach [and Lions assistant coach] Rob Howley favours.

Cuthbert’s sense of relief was shared by compatriot Leigh Halfpenny, who kicked 13 points in the 23-21 victory at Suncorp Stadium. The fullback feared a repeat of the last-minute loss Wales suffered in last summer’s Second Test against Australia.

Mike Harris stepped up and slotted the killer penalty that day but Kurtley Beale could not repeat the dose, much to Halfpenny’s delight:

YouTube credit: RugbyMedia

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Patrick McCarry

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