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Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tommy Bowe ignored Irish pressure to sign Ospreys deal

Tommy Bowe
Bowe's versatility has been vital to the injury-ravaged Ospreys this season

Lions star Tommy Bowe admitted he was under "pressure" to return to his native Ireland before signing a contract extension at the Ospreys.

Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam winner signed a new deal that will keep him at the Ospreys until the summer of 2013.

And Ospreys chief Scott Johnson insists his region's offer was not the most lucrative on the table for Bowe.

"There was a little bit of pressure to go back home," he told BBC Sport. "But I felt things are going well here."

Bowe moved to Wales from Ulster in 2008 but he was strongly linked with a return to Ireland when his initial Ospreys deal ran out in the summer.

The 25-year-old claimed he was offered a move back home to sign an Irish Rugby Union central contract which would have ensured the IRFU would be in control of Bowe's welfare through to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

But he remained at the Liberty Stadium as Bowe feels the star-studded Ospreys, widely-regarded as European club rugby's galacticos, are close to winning major trophies and the Heineken Cup.

"I have enjoyed my last 18 months and the Ospreys have done great things for my rugby," Bowe said.

Tommy and the Ospreys have complemented each other fantastically over the last year and a half

Ospreys coach Sean Holley

"I'm very happy to get my contract signed as it has been a stressful couple of weeks and now it is like a weight lifted off my shoulders so it lets me get back to concentrating on playing rugby.

"I was flattered by the interest from other European clubs, but after taking advice it all came back to the fact that I am enjoying my rugby and life in general at the Ospreys.

"Obviously leaving Ireland to come to Wales was a big decision in the first place.

"A return to Ireland had a strong emotional pull and I take enormous pride in the privilege of wearing the Irish jersey.

"I just feel all the ingredients are here for long-term success.

"With a new coach like Scott Johnson coming in and the players we have in our squad, it will not take much for us to click. So I felt it was right to stay and keep going the way I have been."

Australian Johnson, the Ospreys' new director of coaching, hailed Bowe's loyalty as he signed on for another three years at the Liberty Stadium.


"Despite the innuendo, Tommy stayed for loyalty and it was probably at the expense of his pocket," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"And that says a lot about the lad and about what we're providing here.

"He is a quality player and to keep him is good for us and good for him because he is a perfect fit for our style."

Bowe, the all-time leading Magners League try scorer, has made a huge impact at the Ospreys as a centre, wing and, occasionally, as a full-back.

Bowe, who played all three Lions Tests on their summer tour to South Africa, has scored 18 tries in 34 appearances for the region - including an impressive nine in his last 10 outings.

He has scored 11 tries from his 25 Ireland caps and managed four touchdowns in six games for the Lions last summer.

Coach Sean Holley added: "The fact that he is a proven try scorer, can play in a number of positions and exhibits good leadership qualities are an obvious bonus to the team.

"His performances so far this season have shown that there is even more to come from him and we are delighted that we are now able to call on his services for an additional three years.

"He is a genuine world-class talent, who is much sought after and still very young."

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see also
Osprey Bowe cleared of foul play
17 Dec 09 |  Welsh
Financial squeeze affects Ospreys
16 Oct 09 |  Welsh
Bowe sets sights on more trophies
24 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Bowe relishing Ospreys wing battle
12 Aug 08 |  Ospreys
Ulster's Bowe signs for Ospreys
25 Jan 08 |  Irish
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh

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