GUINNESS PRO12: Tommy Bowe edges closer to Ulster return after knee injury

Tommy Bowe and Les Kiss
Tommy Bowe and Les Kiss

British Lions winger, Tommy Bowe, looks set to defy the odds and return to playing following a serious knee injury over the next week.

The Irish international suffered a knee injury during Ireland’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina last October.

The 31-year-old suffered posterior cruciate ligament and meniscal damage.

It had been feared he could be out for the entire season, but his recovery has gone well.

Although fellow Irish international Iain Henderson is expected to be involved in Friday night’s Guinness PRO12 trip to Glasgow (see back page), the Scotstoun trek may come too early for Bowe.

However, the three-quarter is expected to come into the mix again within the next couple of weeks.

Ulster head coach, Les Kiss said: “Tommy is getting closer and closer and for the nature of the injury he had it is just being really careful about when he comes back at everything full tilt.

“He is taking contract in a really strong way now so he can play rugby, but it is about getting the timing right and he is probably a little bit behind Iain Henderson at this stage.”

Ulster had not expected to see captain Rory Best, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne back for the return of the PRO12 this weekend having been involved in the Six Nations.

Kiss admitted there was the possibility to have one or two of them on the bench, but at this stage he had not banked on having any of the trio.

Best and Trimble played in all five RBS 6 Nations games, while Payne missed the away game against England but was a prominent figure during the past two weeks in the wins over Italy and Scotland which saw Ireland secure third place.

With Darren Cave and Nick Williams both back in the mix and Ulster getting closer to a healthy squad things are looking bright for the crucial run-in to the end of the season as they press their case for a top four finish and the League Play-offs.

Ulster currently lie fourth, four points ahead of sixth placed Glasgow, who have a game in hand, with Munster wedged in between, three points behind.

A win over the defending champions would put Ulster in a good place and with the current league leaders Connacht due to come to Belfast next weekend there is an excellent opportunity for the Irish Province to put themselves in a strong position ahead of the final three games of the regular season.