Ulster hopeful of Tommy Bowe return against Dragons in PRO12

Ulster's Tommy Bowe
Ulster's Tommy Bowe

Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson are expected to start for Ulster on Friday night in the RaboDirect PRO12 game against NG Dragons at Ravenhill.

They have been released from Ireland for the league fixture and given Ulster’s under par performances in spite of winning against Ospreys and Treviso to climb into third place in the PRO12, they were fortunate to secure victory in both.

The duo trained with Ulster yesterday morning before joining the Irish squad who have a two day camp in Belfast.

The performance of both, particularly outhalf Jackson, will be noted by Irish coach Joe Schmidt.

There was speculation earlier this week that Jackson could start for Ireland in the Six Nations game against Italy in Dublin on March 8.

Jonathan Sexton has a thumb injury, and while it is not considered to be serious, Schmidt may rest the Racing Metro flyhalf and hand Jackson the start.

A further boost for Ulster ahead of the Dragons game is that British Lion winger, Tommy Bowe, could be included on the matchday 23 to be named later today.

He has been out since November after suffering a groin injury playing with Ireland.

Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, said: “We’re looking at him, he’s not ruled in or out at this stage. We need to see how he reacts tomorrow (Thursday) after training today.

“It’s been a while since Tommy has been out and with what is coming ahead of us we want to make sure we’re not rushing it and when he is ready to play he is confidence to go out and play.”

Meanwhile, number eight Nick Williams is unavailable for selection due to an internal investigation being conducted by the club after alleged unauthorised absence.

While he faces a disciplinary hearing, he is expected to remain with the club.