Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Morgan Treacy/INPHO Bowe had been out since March with an ankle injury.
# new lease of life
'He's enjoying playing there': Ulster using fit-again Bowe in new midfield role
The Ireland international played centre during his time with Ospreys and could feature there for the province this season.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium  

FIT AND RARING to go after another cruel injury setback which led many to wonder if he’d ever be able to resurrect his career, Tommy Bowe is back and enjoying a new lease of life ahead of the Ulster’s campaign opener.

The Ireland international had been sidelined since March with a leg injury he sustained during the Six Nations clash with Wales, but is now back to good health after taking a full part in pre-season.

Bowe came off the bench for his first appearance in five months during Ulster’s friendly defeat to Wasps last week and will be involved again when the northern province face Northampton on Friday.

With Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy operating on the wings, Bowe slotted into the 13 position when he came on against Wasps and Les Kiss said he’ll do the same this week.

“I’m really happy to see where Tommy is,” the Ulster director of rugby said at this morning’s Pro14 launch.

“Probably the real difficult times last season were when he seemed to be there but wasn’t quite there. He’s certainly got a real purpose out him this year. He looks more comfortable. I like the way way he looks.

“We used him at 13 last week and we’ll use him again at 13 this week [against Northampton] and see how it goes there. It’s going to be good; try to build that flexibility with him there again. He’s in a good place.

“He has not [played there for a while] but he’s enjoying playing there — on the wing and then centre as well.”

Les Kiss Dan Sheridan / INPHO Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

When asked if he has seen a new-found spring in Bowe’s step since returning over the summer, Kiss added: ”That’s what I’ve liked. He’s done session, on session, on session. He has trained at wing and centre. He has natural leadership ability and he is a statesman in the place now.

“A good, wise head for the young lads around him and I’m really happy with how he’s been going. Tommy has always been a resource for us within the team but he’s a wiser player now, for sure. We rely on him, mentally, to help some of those outside backs.”

Meanwhile, Kiss confirmed that Jared Payne has been given the medical all-clear after his Lions tour was cut short by ongoing migraines.

The Ireland centre underwent specialist tests in Wellington in June after reporting headaches during the game against the Hurricanes, but Kiss said it ‘wasn’t sinister.’

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“For Jared, it was a big year for him,” he said. “The kidney [damage] and the recent thing with the Lions, so he is looking forward to getting back into some consistency of practice, preparation and getting back out there. Because he’s pretty important to us when he is at his best.”

“It [the medical reason for his tour ending early] wasn’t sinister,” Kiss added. “It was just around migraines so he’s just getting his head around what that is and whether it can repeat itself in the future, which it can. But he’s in a place now where he can work away and see how he goes.”

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