Over the summer one of the world’s deadliest finishers returned to Ulster for his second spell at the club. Tommy Bowe spent four years with the Ospreys in Wales, however opted to make the move back to Ireland during the off-season. Ulster are looking to progress from last season where they reached the Heineken final. Bowe has made four appearances for his new side so far this season and has managed to cross the try line twice.
It is a big year for Bowe at both domestic and international level as well as the prospect of a second Lions tour next summer which will make his season even more of a challenge. We were lucky enough to ask the winger a few questions about his pre-season and what his aims were. Here is what he had to say:
How have you settled back into the Ulster life Tommy?
Really well. The first week or two were a little strange as Ulster has really moved on since I left 4 years ago but now I am back in the fold it is going really well.
What was the biggest challenge since you moved back?
The biggest challenge was getting myself back to full fitness as I hadn’t played a match since March so was feeling pretty out of shape. The training was tough but am really feeling the benefits of it now.
How was your pre-season?
It was tough but good fun. I always enjoyed Belfast and stayed in contact with the guys even when I left for Ospreys so it was good to get back training with them again. That makes the hard days of fitness and weights more bearable!
Are the training demands much different at Ulster than elsewhere?
The demands are as high as anywhere I have seen, there are slight differences to the Ospreys but that is the fun part in getting to focus on new things. It has been good to work with Jonny Davis, the fitness coach, who has a special interest in speed so that has been good for me being a winger.
If so, does this increase your nutritional requirements during the pre-season?
Yes, the training during pre-season was very tough and as a result I was burning a huge amount of more calories. I was eating a lot more than during the normal season so that I didn’t lose weight. Some may say that sounds like a great problem to have but force feeding in order to maintain my weight is sometimes a pain.
What products did you use to help maintain weight and general health at that time of the season in contrast to during the season?
I used the Recovery shakes mainly, they helped me to recover after sessions. During the pre-season particularly I also used Oat Gain a couple of times per day to maintain weight. Everyday I take the Omega 3 fish oils as they are also good for recovery and act as an anti-inflammatory to help ease the pain of the hard work.
Looking forward, what are your professional goals this year?
My main aim in the short term is to get a regular place in the Ulster team. So far I have been so impressed with the young guys playing here and I knew before I agreed to come back that there would be a real challenge to get myself into the team week in week out. If I can do that I know I will have to be playing well and therefore I can look to push my way back into the Irish set-up.
How did you mentally prepare for the new season with your new team?
That is beauty of joining a new team, it is very easy to motivate yourself as you are constantly being watched by fellow players and coaches to see if you are up to it. It was nice motivation for me to show what I’ve learnt in Wales can be beneficial to Ulster.
Does this differ to the mental preparation before a game?
In some ways its similar as I want to impress in both training and matches. In matches it is about doing good for the team more, as in training you work to get into the team as an individual but when you are in it, it’s important to know you are there to do what you can to help the team to win.
Finally Tommy, if you had the choice, a Six Nations title or a Heineken Cup?
I would really love either but the Heineken cup is the one I would love the most.