Tommy Bowe has been enjoying a new lease of life this season after making the decision to quit professional rugby at the end of May.
Last night the 33-year-old confirmed he would play the final string on his bow this season and hang his boots up.
The British Lion, Irish international and Ulster fans’ favourite revealed exclusively to the News Letter that he wanted to end his career on his terms.
Bowe is currently undergoing treatment on a shoulder injury he picked up in the recent Guinness PRO14 game against Leinster and is hoping to be back in around six to seven weeks time.
With his contract due to be up at the end of this season and being plagued to a degree by injury in recent seasons Bowe decided at the start of the current season that he had had his time.
“I will have very few regrets, if any,” Bowe told the News Letter.
“This season I have managed to get myself playing again and I have decided I am going to play without the stress or worrying about getting picked.
“It is great to be able to go out and play without the pressure I put myself under to go and play for Ireland and want to be picked week in and week out for Ulster.
“It has given me a new lease of life and I am absolutely loving it,” he said.
The Monaghan man who attended Royal School Armagh came through the Ulster Schools’ system,but did not play for Irish Schools’.
However, he did make the underage Ireland sides and was part of the Under-21 side which lost in the World Cup final to New Zealand in 2004.
“That was such a big thing then and sure I ended up having to sit and watch the final as I picked up an injury,” smiled Bowe.
Bowe has made 69 Ireland appearances, including a Grand Slam win, and had made 13 appearances to date for Ulster this season, bringing his total Provincial appearances to 163.
He also played in two British & Irish Lions Tours, being a member of the Test series winning side in Australia in 2013.
Bowe has already made over 300 appearances as a professional player when you add in his stint at Welsh region The Ospreys.
“I have had a fantastic career to date - and I am still hoping to finish it on a high with Ulster this season,” said Bowe.
“I have seen so many friends have to retire early because of injury or having to chase around after contracts that I felt this was a good time for me to do it on my terms.
“I have been playing okay and getting game time and given the way the game is going it has been nice for me to be able to plan it this way,” said Bowe.
DO NOT MISS FURTHER EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH TOMMY BOWE THIS WEEK - ONLY IN THE NEWS LETTER