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'Iain Henderson's probably out walking my dog at the minute' -- Bowe upbeat as recovery drags on

The wing is complaining that his right leg is getting as small as Craig Gilroy’s while it remains in a brace.

Rob Herring, Cheryl Graham, Tommy Bowe, Joe Barakat and Craig Gilroy Tommy Bowe, Rob Herring, Craig Gilroy and assistant coach Joe Barakat were speaking at a Kingspan hosted media event in Dublin to preview Ulster’s ERCC match against Toulouse on Friday night in Kingspan Stadium. Fans can stay up to date with the latest Kingspan competitions and promotions by following @KingspanStadium on Twitter. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TOMMY BOWE DOESN’T get to sit comfortably much these days.

The smile and the easy-flowing style of chit-chat is still there, but throughout a short interview the Ulster and Ireland wing intermittently shifts mid-conversation to tug at the brace encasing his right leg.

It’s a little over seven weeks since the 31-year-old banjaxed his posterior cruciate ligament with Ireland still reeling from two early Argentina tries in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final. With the aid of the brace, or at times despite it, Bowe moves around the lobby of a Dublin hotel with ease, right up until the point he’s asked to climb up on a high stool for a short sponsor’s announcement.

Bowe has found himself doing a little more of this sort of thing recently, putting his face back in the public eye to spark some hope of him regaining fitness in time for the Six Nations. But with that clunky brace staying on until the end of the month, that target is still a little too close to target properly.

“Maybe moving about a little bit easier than I was (when he was last interviewed) two weeks ago. Listen, it’s still very early stages. I’ll just let the body heal the way it does,” said Bowe at an event for Kingspan in Dublin.

“I had surgery six weeks ago on Monday and, so far, things are looking good in the way that it’s feeling a lot better week on week, the strength is starting to coming back into it.”

Tommy Bowe down injured Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

‘Strength’ is a term that Bowe uses loosely. His physio work is a base level, basically to prepare his leg to take his weight again.

“Unfortunately, it’s dwindling away to a leg that’s a size of Gilly’s over there. I’ve one big leg and one small one,” jokes Bowe with a thumb pointed over his shoulder at Craig Gilroy.

Hopefully in January, I’ll be able to take the brace off and be told that the surgery has done what it’s meant to do. I can start rehabbing from there and get myself back into getting the leg back up the strength it needs to be to start playing again.”


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“I am doing small strengthening exercises on it, but it’s really just a case of letting it heal. The last thing I want to do is rush back and aggravate it and keep me out for longer. It’s a case of letting nature take its course and hopefully when the New Year comes I’ll have had a good Christmas and I’ll be able to look forward to getting back out on the pitch.”

There wasn’t a big shortage of Ulstermen in Bowe’s shoes last weekend, but the win over Edinburgh was a punishing watch as five new names were signed up to rehabilitation programmes.

IrelandÕs Tommy Bowe Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Chief among them is Iain Henderson who will miss the rest of the season with a ‘severe’ hamstring injury. Even so, Bowe reports that the powerful lock hasn’t allowed the painful setback affect his mood.

“To be honest with you, I’m not even sure if he’s too injured at all. He’s wandering around and he’s actually out walking my dog at the moment,” says the wing with a laugh, before holding out hope that he can recover up sooner than expected again.

“He’s got incredible healing power — because he ruptured some sort of ligaments in his finger and it looked like he could be out for a couple of months, but he was back playing after three or four weeks.

Iain Henderson Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It seemed like a pretty serious injury. His finger was pretty mangled looking and how he was able to get himself back out onto the pitch was incredible.

“He is a very quick healer and he has a huge pain threshold. It wouldn’t surprise me (to see him back before the end of the season). I don’t know what the crack is – but fingers-crossed it is not going to be too serious.”

Bowe hasn’t followed in the footsteps of Henderson and Andrew Trimble who last season took to amateur mechanics to help kill a few of the endless hours out with a long-term injury. He has business interests to keep his hands from growing idle while his leg itches to be put to work.

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Sean Farrell

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