Bowe and Strauss suffer knee injuries
Rugby:Tommy Bowe will have surgery next week after suffering “significant” lateral ligament damage to his right knee during last night’s 10-9 Heineken Cup defeat at the hands of Northampton. Bowe was stretchered off the pitch at Ravenhill three minutes from time and the injury could rule him out for the remainder of the season.
Bowe hyper-extended his knee after taking a high ball and while Ulster are unable to say how long he will be out for, it will almost certainly be a period of months.
“An initial scan this morning revealed that he has sustained significant lateral ligament damage to his right knee,” the province revealed in a statement this afternoon. “He will undergo surgery later this week to repair the damage. At this stage it is not possible to put a timescale on how long his recovery period will be. A further update on this will be issued following the surgery, when the full extent of the injury will be known.”
There was more bad news for Ireland coach Declan Kidney earlier in the day when Richardt Strauss was forced off at the Aviva Stadium after sustaining a cruciate ligament injury in Leinster’s 28-21 defeat by Clermont Auvernge. The South African-born hooker, who made his first Ireland start during the November internationals, twisted his knee in contact and suffered long-term damage.
Leinster are also likely to be without Isa Nacewa (arm) and Shane Jennings (shoulder) when they take on Ulster in Belfast next Friday night.
Bowe, whose prospects of touring Australia with the British and Irish Lions could conceivably be jeopardised by his current injury, is an integral part of Kidney’s plans. The 28-year-old former Osprey has scored 26 tries in 51 Tests, and he is rated among the deadliest finishers in European rugby.
He started all three Tests for the 2009 Lions in South Africa, the final Test at outside centre when the Lions won in Johannesburg. Ireland’s season has been badly-affected by injuries, with Brian O’Driscoll, Paul
O’Connell, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien all missing the entire autumn series last month.
Ulster’s defeat was Mark Anscombe’s first since taking over during the summer but the New Zealander had no argument over the result and felt that his side would still bounce back and remain very much in control of Pool Four.
“It’s sad because it’s our first loss but we got beaten by a better team,” he added.
“We’re still a good team and we’ll bounce back. It happens and you’ve got to acknowledge it and respect it as they did well and deserved their victory. We’ve got to go back and look at what we need to do better,” stated the Kiwi. “Our execution was poor and we suffered from it. They got 10 points up in the first 18 minutes.
“We held them out well but I think we created enough opportunities to score points and we weren’t patient enough and didn’t have enough composure at crucial times. We tried to force it and they brought a little more passion than us to start with. Their physicality at the start got them going.
“We weren’t complacent but we were a little more passive early on and we created enough opportunities but we just weren’t composed enough at crucial times and we didn’t take our points when we had opportunities.
“Our destiny is still in our own hands,” Anscombe said regarding the return to Heineken Cup action in January. “We’re not relying on other teams to see how it goes, if we win our last two games we’ll qualify. Not every team has that opportunity, we have and we need to take it.”
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder hailed the efforts of his pack after they avenged the defeat inflicted last weekend. “We had the determination to put the last game right,” the coach said after his side had not only ended Ulster’s 13-game winning run at a packed Ravenhill but had also kept them still just about in the running in the European race.
“We were bitterly disappointed with the first game and we got a lot of criticism from various places and I think as a team we were determined to put that right.”