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Schmidt rejects suggestion that Bowe inclusion is a 'nostalgia' call

The 33-year-old Ulster wing is back on Ireland’s bench for the clash with Wales.

JOE SCHMIDT HAS rejected the notion that the inclusion of Tommy Bowe in Ireland’s matchday squad is a ‘nostalgia’ call.

The 33-year-old wing was used off the bench in Ireland’s defeat to Scotland on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, after which Schmidt’s selection was criticised.

Bowe is now back on Ireland’s bench for tomorrow’s clash with Wales, with more eyebrows being raised by the decision.

Ireland’s Tommy Bowe Bowe is back on the Ireland bench for tomorrow. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Former Ireland wing Shane Horgan, who played under Schmidt with Leinster, told the Second Captains podcast that Schmidt’s decision to include Bowe against Scotland had been an error.

“That looked like a nostalgia call, having him in the team,” Horgan said. “He hasn’t been playing well. I was very surprised that he was in the 23.”

Bowe was subsequently left out of Ireland’s matchday squad for the trip to Italy and missed out on the home win over France.

The Ulster wing was then ommitted from Schmidt’s extended 36-man squad for the closing two rounds of the championship.

However, a hand injury for Andrew Trimble saw Bowe called in as an injury replacement last weekend and he has jumped ahead of Tiernan O’Halloran, Andrew Conway, Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne for the 23 shirt ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Wales in Cardiff.

When Horgan’s suggestion that Bowe’s inclusion during this Six Nations was a nostalgic decision was put to the Ireland head coach, Schmidt rejected it outright.

“Look, I think Shane hasn’t spent any time in our environment, so he’s never seen Tommy train, so I think it’s a typically external opinion that is purely opinion based,” said Schmidt.

“We try to base our decision on how a player is performing. I’ve coached Shane and there’s probably been times when people have questioned my selecting him in the past. There’s always going to be people questioning selection.

Tommy Bowe 33-year-old Bowe will win his 69th cap if used off the bench. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I feel that we’re best placed. There’s no way I’d say we get it right every time, because again, there’s a human factor in coaching, just as there is in playing, as I referred to with George North.

“I think he’s a super player, and if somebody has a slightly off day, there’s no guarantee that off days continue, in fact it’s potentially going to be the reverse, they’re going to revert to type and be outstanding in their next performance.

“I’m not sure whether, over the last three and a half, four years, how many nostalgic decisions I’ve made. But I can’t really remember many.”

Having included Bowe as the 23rd man for a second time in this championship, Schmidt backed the 68-times capped Ulsterman to deliver for Ireland tomorrow night at the Principality Stadium.

The Ireland head coach also indicated that Bowe’s aerial strength was one of the key reasons for picking him.

“I think if you look at his last two Ulster performances, you can see his ability to read the game, to run a good line, to be in the right place at the right time,” said Schmidt.

“His aerial game is a real strength for him, and for us. That’s where they came after us last time with Dan Biggar and Liam Williams, George North is such a big man, Leigh Halfpenny got a couple of good aerial takes early in the game.

“Therefore, you cut your cloth, you account for how somebody’s training, you calculate what they bring to the game, and then you make decisions.

“That’s where I’d challenge anyone to do as much work looking at how people are preparing themselves, and then make decisions. The caveat of all that is – I’m not claiming that we’ve got it right, we’ve just worked hard to try to make the best decisions.”

Subscribe to The42 Rugby Show podcast here:

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Murray Kinsella

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