Tommy Bowe set for return to Ulster
Ulster are close to winning the race to sign Tommy Bowe, with the Ireland winger poised to return to his native province next season.
Although no deal is believed to have been signed as yet, sources claim contract talks are at “an advanced stage” with Ulster set to recapture the player who played for them between 2003 and ’08.
Bowe scored a try in Ireland’s 23-21 Six Nations loss to Wales on Sunday last and is due back in the Ireland camp today ahead of this weekend’s trip to Paris to face France.
It was reported last week that the Ireland and Lions star would leave the Ospreys at the end of the season – with a year left on his contract – with Munster favourites to secure his signature, but it is now understood that Ulster are hopeful of securing his prized signature.
“Tommy is still under contract at the Ospreys and at this stage is concentrating on Ireland’s Six Nations championship campaign,” said the player’s representatives yesterday.
With the IRFU’s Player Succession Strategy favouring Irish-qualified players, recapturing Bowe would represent a significant coup for Ulster as they seek to become a force in Europe.
Meanwhile, Keith Earls is due to rejoin the Ireland squad today having missed the Wales match for personal reasons, and the Irish camp is reporting no major injury concerns for Saturday’s match.
Munster full-back Denis Hurley and Leinster flanker Shane Jennings have been released to their provinces to play in the Pro12 and there are no additions to the squad.
Luke Fitzgerald is not expected to be fit for Leinster’s Pro12 clash with Treviso this week but the province are hopeful he will be available for next week’s game against the Scarlets, which could put him in the frame for Ireland’s meeting with Italy on February 25.
“It would be possible (this week) but we’re better off to make sure he’s 100pc. We’re pretty confident for next week against the Scarlets, and see what happens from there,” said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.
While Ireland do not name their team until Thursday, France are set to announce their line-up today, with speculation that Lionel Beauxis, Imanol Harinordoquy and David Attoub will be brought into the side that accounted for Italy last weekend.