Tommy Bowe insists he can bounce back from his horror-show warm-up match against England and regain his starting Ireland spot at the World Cup.
Ulster wing Bowe missed a regulation tackle on Jonny May that gifted the Gloucester flyer the first try in Ireland’s 21-13 warm-up defeat to England at Twickenham on September 5.
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt duly dropped Bowe for the World Cup opener; Dave Kearney and Keith Earls on the wings for the 50-7 victory over Canada.
Bowe knows exactly what he must offer against Romania at Wembley this weekend, the only Ireland star in action in London who faced The Oaks when the two sides last met, in 2005.
“It was tough to be left out,” said Bowe.
“It was a huge kick up the a*** for me to take my opportunities whenever I get them and I am looking forward to the game.
“It was a bit of a shock.
“I had a bit of chat with Joe (Schmidt) – there wasn’t too much to talk about.
“I knew myself that I let myself down a little bit. He said to me it is all there to play for.
“I want to be part of this Irish team firing on all cylinders.
“I think I would be a huge asset to the team and I am looking forward to showing that tomorrow.
“Everybody wanted to be playing in that first game up – it is such a big competition – but it shows there is good competition for places around the squad and it is exciting that guys are getting opportunities to put their hands up for the next two games.
“It has made me go back and re-assess again which is a good thing.
“I have trained really well the last couple of weeks – I have gone back to really enjoying myself and trying to do everything I can to get myself involved and get myself in the game.
“That is only going to show tomorrow.”
Bowe featured on Ireland’s wing in the 43-12 victory over Romania in Dublin back in November 2005, with Chris Henry relishing the chance to rib his Ulster team-mate for being the old man of the piece.
The 31-year-old will win his 64th Ireland cap against Romania, with head coach Schmidt’s men expected to win at a canter.
Ireland know that their meetings with Italy and France should decide Pool D, with a potential quarter-final against Argentina in the offing.
Bowe is confident he can still mix it with Dave Kearney, Earls and Simon Zebo to secure one of Ireland’s starting wing berths moving forward.
“I know that the other guys have all been playing well and of course the England match didn’t really go my way – it wasn’t one of my best performances in an Ireland jersey.
“But I have a lot of experience in the green jersey and a lot of experience playing at the top level so I know how to bounce back.
“I have wiped that from my memory, the last couple of weeks has got me back training with a smile on my face.
“It gives you a little bit of a spur on to know there is competition for places.
“Tomorrow is going to be a big opportunity for me to put my hand up – the next two weeks are huge. I am excited about it.”