Tommy Bowe’s frustration continues to grow as he battles with a groin muscle tear which has seen him out of action since the end of November.
There had been high hopes in both the Ulster and Ireland camps the British Lion winger would feature in Friday night’s game against Ospreys at Ravenhill as his Province returns to PRO12 action after a short break.
It could have been the perfect time for Bowe to launch himself back into the Irish frame as well, with head coach, Joe Schmidt having already intimated he was hopeful that the three-quarter could be back in the mix for the game away to England later this month.
But Ireland manager, Mike Kearney revealed on Tuesday that both Bowe and Munster’s Donnacha Ryan, also returning from injury, would not be playing for their Provinces this weekend in the PRO12.
However, there was some better news when Kearney added: “We are hopeful they might see game time next week.”
Bowe’s last action was in the green shirt of Ireland at the end of November when they agonisinly lost 24-22 to New Zealand, the All Blacks denying the Irish an historic first win by scoring a converted try with the last play of the game.
Last year Bowe missed a considerable amount of the season when he ruptured knee ligaments, but returned in April and went on to play for the British Lions in Australia.
Although he broke a finger he recovered within two weeks to play in the final Test which the Lions won to secure a series victory.
The current injury is, however, leaving Bowe frustrated although he knows he has to do the time.
Bowe told the News Letter: “You can mend a break with a plate or a few pins, but with a groin problem you just cannot rush it.
“I am hoping to be back playing within weeks if things go according to plan.
“It is basically a tear of a muscle and one of those injuries that you simply cannot rush back from.
“I know people talk about Rory Best breaking his arm before Christmas and even my finger break during the Lions Tour and coming back so quickly.
“You can mend a break, put a plate in and a lock of screws like I did with my injury with the Lions and the knee injury previously last season, but with the ligaments you cannot rush them.
“Yes, it is frustrating,” admitted Bowe.
“It has taken a little bit longer than I had hoped, but I am on the right track. The last couple of weeks have been brilliant.”
When Joe Schmidt had named his extended panel for the Six Nations two weeks ago, Bowe was being given time to prove his fitness.
And the rehab to the injury was to continue at Ulster and not down at the Irish training camp at Carton House.
“He (Joe) was happy with me staying at Ulster for the rehab.
“I am getting 100 per cent dedication here and I would only be standing around waiting for physios to tend to me when there are other players who are focusing on Test matches.
“I need to get back playing with Ulster before I even think about Ireland. But if I do get some reasonable game time and there are no issues then maybe I can be involved in the Six Nations.
“I am on a programme with the medical team on Ulster that will get me back hopefully on two fronts soon.”