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Professional Tommy Bowe will bounce back from injury in style, maintains Gary Longwell

By Jonathan Bradley

Tommy Bowe will endure a frustrating spell on the sidelines after confirmation came yesterday that Ulster’s star wing would be out of action for at least six months.

As revealed in Friday’s Belfast Telegraph, the two-time Lion will now miss the majority of this season, including Ireland’s Six Nations defence, if indeed he returns during this campaign.

Having been stretchered off in just the 12th minute of Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina, the 31-year-old sustained posterior cruciate ligament and meniscal injuries that required surgery on Monday.

With Jared Payne and Iain Henderson also picking up injuries at the tournament, and with both set to be out until December, Neil Doak’s squad has once again been decimated by injuries to key men at crucial times.

It is Bowe, however, who will be the cause of most concern.

Having endured a luckless run of injuries since his return to the province from the Ospreys in 2012, another absence from the game will surely bring huge disappointment.

In his recent autobiography, ‘Man and Ball’, Bowe’s former Ulster, Ireland and Lions team-mate Stephen Ferris offers a fascinating insight into the life of an injured star for the province.

“The rehab group, for all its support and good intentions, is the hardest to take,” he wrote.

“When you feel yourself improving and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s easy. You have a goal and you know you are getting closer.

“Lads come into the group with torn knee ligaments, fractured ankles, dislocated shoulders. Six, seven weeks later and they are out again back training with the boys. You are still in the group.

“Match nights are a bitter pill. As you are injured, and not playing, you have to do public relations work.

“It is easy for the guy with the broken finger. He can turn around and say he will be back in six weeks, for the guys with long-term injuries it is a trial.

“You have to walk into a group of 15 to 20 people, in the corporate boxes, and have everyone ask the same questions.”

Gary Longwell, Ulster’s European Cup winning star and a team-mate of Bowe’s when he made his provincial bow in 2004, is sure that the end is far from nigh for the Grand Slam winner.

Longwell said: “From me knowing Tommy, he’s an excellent professional.

“He takes his rehab and his prehab very, very seriously indeed.

“I’ve a lot of faith in Ulster Rugby, guys like Dr Webb, that they can get him back.

“A lot of people probably wrote him off in the build-up to the World Cup and he showed there what he is still capable of with some big performances. 

“He’s got so much class, so much ability and I still think there’s a bit more to come from him.

“He’ll have a long career yet and I’m sure he’s already thinking about coming back stronger.

“I suppose now, age isn’t a big factor anymore because of how well all these guys train and how well they are looked after.

“The IRFU deserve a lot of credit for their player welfare, hopefully the clock isn’t ticking the way it would have been a few years ago.”

Longwell, one of the game’s most genial characters himself, is sure that the affable Bowe will retain a positive outlook despite his latest injury setback.

“I don’t think Tommy has changed at all, that’s what’s fantastic about him,” added Longwell.

“He’s a genuinely good person.

“He’s easy-going, not too stressed… although I suppose in the grand scheme of things he doesn’t have much to be stressed about!

“He’s just one of those guys that is universally popular as a player and a person so it will be great to see when he does get back.

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From Belfast Telegraph