TOMMY BOWE WAS delighted to open his second Lions tour with a try against Western Force but admitted the thoughts of most of the player and coaching staff were with injured prop Cian Healy.
The Irish forward went down awkwardly, in the Lions’ 52-point win, and appeared to twist back his ankle badly after he was grappled by Force flanker Angus Cottrell. He was taken from the field on a motorised medical cart but coach Warren Gatland confirmed post-match that there had been no bones broken. Ligament damage, however, is suspected and Healy will have a leg scan once the swelling goes down.
Speaking to ESPNscrum, Bowe said, “You fear the worst for Cian. I was there and I heard him scream. It didn’t sound nice but fingers crossed and you hope for the best. My thoughts go out to him.
He’d be an enormous loss to the team, both on and off the pitch. He’s been a fantastic player, for Ireland and Leinster, for the last couple of years and he would have been pushing for a Test spot.”
Injured badly or not, Healy will face the citing board over an alleged bite on Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan during the 69-17 victory.
Turning his thoughts to the game, the Ulster winger was pleased with how the new Lions backline clicked through the gears in Perth. “First game in for a lot of us but I think a lot of the boys were looking pretty sharp,” he said.
“Leigh Halfpenny’s kicking was unbelievable; the two centre played very well together. It’s nice to be able to play off guys like that and get some good ball in your hands.”
Tommy Bowe dives over to score against Western Force. (AP Photo/Iain Gillespie)
Rugby commentators and former players, such as Ian McGeechan and Clive Woodward, have lambasted the Australian Rugby Union for not releasing Wallabies to feature in the warm-up games. Bowe believes the Lions’ openers have testing.
He said, “I don’t know about that. There’s a few battered and bruised bodies in that changing room and for them to score a few tries shows that there is a lot to work on… Everyone’s happy but we are moving on to some tough matches ahead.”
He added, “We’ve such a quick turnaround that we can’t dwell on the tries for too long but I think it is something will look at, assess and try to improve… Two very tough matches and two great wins. It’s still very early days on the tour but a lot of guys are playing great rugby.”