Tommy Bowe heads into Saturday's first Test with South Africa and a showdown with Bryan Habana, the deadliest winger in world rugby, in the form of his life. Bowe has joined Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Paul O'Connell, Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips in the certain-starter category for the series opener in Durban after emerging as the tourist's most potent attacking weapon with four tries in three games.
The Osprey, 25, refuses to accept he is a certainty for the right-wing spot but he must have surely entertained the prospect of facing Habana, who has scored 31 tries in 39 Tests. "I am playing with confidence at the moment," said Bowe. "When I get the ball I am feeling happy to take defenders on and play my own game. "I am enjoying my rugby. I've had a good season, I've got myself into a bit of form and I am enjoying myself.
"Things have really rocketed in the last year," added Bowe who failed to make Ireland's World Cup squad in 2007. "To be in a position where I am hopefully in contention for the first Test is something I have always dreamed of. I can't take anything for granted. The Test team is going to be picked on Tuesday, and fingers crossed I've done enough to get myself in there." Added Bowe: "For me to be here seems very special. It's the pinnacle of any rugby player's career, so if you didn't enjoy it there would be something wrong. I am playing with a smile on my face.
"We've been playing with a lot of different combinations, and it is a case of getting everything correct for Saturday. Coming over here we were going to be underdogs, and that's the way we want to be. I think if people write us off, they will get a shock." * With agencies