The Ireland and Lions legends spoke exclusively to The Rugby Blog, reflecting on their defeat in Paris and looking ahead to this weekend’s game with England.
Hutch: What do you think was the key difference between France and Ireland last week?
Tommy Bowe: I’m not sure there was a key difference, the game just didn’t go our way. We went out there with the same desire to win, but made some errors throughout the game that cost us.
Jamie Heaslip: It just wasn’t our day, but we’ll look at the analysis, look at the mistakes we made as well as the successes and fix it for the next match. It wasn’t a good feeling at the end of the game and we were all really disappointed. It was a very quiet dressing room. But we’re upbeat and confident for the weeks ahead. We have to move on and put it into perspective. There’s no need to panic!
Hutch: Did their accusations of ‘cheating’ affect your preparations at all? Was it even mentioned?
Tommy Bowe: No it wasn’t mentioned and it’s not something we’d get embroiled in. Our focus was what we were going to deliver on the pitch and all of our conversations were based on how we’d do that… not what was being discussed off it.
Jamie Heaslip: It wasn’t discussed. We had enough to focus on preparing for the game, so what’s being written in the papers didn’t even register.
Hutch: How will that result change the way you approach the rest of the tournament?
Tommy Bowe: There is still a tournament to be won so as disappointed as we were we’ll take the time before the England game to put things right and put in an improved performance at Twickenham. I have 100% confidence in the guys around me and am looking forward to a different result against England.
Jamie Heaslip: We’re just going to work even harder in training over the coming weeks and focus on the next game. There’s no point dwelling on the past we have to focus on forthcoming matches. We can’t change what has happened but we can influence future performances and as I said it has to be put into perspective – a number of small errors cost us the end result.
Hutch: Did you feel additional pressure going into the tournament as reigning champions?
Tommy Bowe: Not really. I’m sure that there’s a huge expectation on us externally. We obviously want to perform to our best and succeed in the 6 Nations, but we don’t put pressure on each other. We just get on with the job in hand.
Jamie Heaslip: Of course we want to do well and the success of last year was immense, but this is a new competition, a new year so we’re focusing on each match and each opponent and not getting ahead of ourselves.
Hutch: Is it now even more important to get a result at Twickenham?
Tommy Bowe: Of course it’s important for our success in the overall competition, but we’re not going to turn up the pressure on each other. We’ll go about our business and work hard in training over the next few weeks to iron out any of the problems we came up against France. England is always a huge game and it’s always tough going to Twickenham.
Jamie Heaslip: Always important to get a result. It’ll be a tough match but we’re confident we’ll do well.
Hutch: In which areas do you think that Ireland has an edge over England?
Tommy Bowe: It’s a big challenge. England came second in the Championship last year and I think that’s possibly been overlooked. They’re a good side and it’ll be a tough match but they’re the sort of matches you look forward to.
Hutch: Are there any particular areas of the Irish game that you are working hard to improve before Saturday?
Tommy Bowe: As I said before the France game was just a bad day at the office so I don’t think there’s anything that we need to change. We just need to make sure that we cut out the small errors.
Hutch: The World Cup is about 18 months away – how much has that been discussed in the Ireland camp?
Tommy Bowe: It hasn’t really been discussed as it’s such a long way away and obviously we have this competition to focus on right now. I’m sure the coaches have probably discussed it, but for the players we just need to make sure we’re focusing on each match as we come up against it.
Jamie Heaslip: It’s not something that’s been mentioned. We have real depth in squad so I think it’s as competitive as ever and you certainly don’t want to get injured as there’s always a quality replacement to put on the green jersey, but we just need to make sure that we’re performing now and all focusing on this competition rather than next year.
Our thanks go to Puma for organising this exclusive interview – both players wear Puma lifestyle apparel available from www.puma.com