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Bowe out until next season after latest blow

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 11/05/2016

Setback: Ulster’s Tommy Bowe, in action against Zebre in Parma last month, misses the rest of the campaign
Setback: Ulster’s Tommy Bowe, in action against Zebre in Parma last month, misses the rest of the campaign
Injury: Louis Ludik's season is also over due to a persistent groin problem

Winger Tommy Bowe will play no further part in Ulster's season or Ireland's summer tour to South Africa after undergoing his second knee operation of the campaign.

The 32-year-old star suffered a serious knee injury during Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina, only making his comeback from posterior cruciate ligament and meniscal damage in last month's win over Zebre.

Having banked 40 minutes for the A side a week prior, Bowe made an eye-catching return to the senior panel in Parma, scoring two tries and going the full 80 minutes after Andrew Trimble was ruled out late on with a virus.

The two-time Lions tourist suffered discomfort after the outing however and missed the subsequent wins over Leinster and Ospreys.

A statement released by Ulster yesterday confirmed that the hope is to have the troublesome knee right in time for the 2016/17 pre-season.

"Tommy Bowe has had exploratory arthroscopy of his right knee to address discomfort he has been experiencing since the win over Zebre in mid-April. The surgery revealed no new injury and Tommy is expected to be fully fit for the start of pre-season," the statement said.

It rounds off what has been a frustrating time for the Monaghan man.

He had lost his place in Ireland's starting side entering the World Cup but stormed back with a big performance against Romania to regain the number 14 jersey in time for the crunch clashes with Italy and France.

It was then against Argentina, in just the 11th minute of his second World Cup quarter-final defeat, that he crumpled to the Millennium Stadium turf in agony.

A second serious knee injury sustained since returning to his native province from Ospreys in the summer of 2012, he also endured spells on the sideline due to his groin, hamstring, and hand.

With Bowe only making one appearance this season, injuries from the World Cup continue to take their toll on Ireland's squad.

Flanker Peter O'Mahony played no part in Munster's campaign while Paul O'Connell was forced into retirement after his hamstring injury.

Bowe was not the only Ulster player to receive the news that his season was over with utility back Louis Ludik also requiring surgery on a persistent groin problem.

The South African played 15 games this season, and was a stalwart during the early part of the campaign when playing through injuries, but has not been able to take the field since the first week of February.

He will have surgery in England tomorrow.

Ludik took to his Twitter account to confirm the news, calling this "the most frustrating" campaign of his career.

Originally signed from Top 14 side Agen on a two-year deal in 2014, Ludik penned a one year extension earlier this season and will become Irish-qualified at the end of the contract.

Ulster chief Les Kiss has no fresh injury concerns ahead of meeting Leinster in the Pro12 play-offs next weekend.

The province scored six tries in their win over Ospreys on Saturday to book their place in the semi-finals and the match-day 23 came through unscathed.

Prop Wiehahn Herbst, out of action since January with a foot problem, did not take part at the Liberty Stadium but was training last week and should come into contention for the RDS clash.

Nick Williams, Dan Tuohy and Alan O'Connor have all already been ruled out by injury.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh team of former Ulster coach Alan Solomons will take their home matches out of Murrayfield next season.

Playing at the national stadium has often created a cavernous atmosphere with average attendances 60,000 under capacity.

Edinburgh have reached a deal with George Watson's College to play fixtures at its Myreside ground from next January.

Belfast Telegraph

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