Tommy Bowe made available for Ulster
Ireland wing will not feature in Six Nations title decider against France on Saturday
Tommy Bowe and Jonathan Sexton during an Ireland training session at Carton House last week. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
After recovering from a long-term groin injury, Bowe played his first game for Ulster since November the Friday before last, marking his return with a brace of tries against the Newport Gwent Dragons.
He trained with the Ireland squad in the build-up to last weekend’s win over Italy and was again expected to join up with the international panel as they prepare to face France, leading to speculation that he may conceded force his way into the squad for Saturday’s title-decider.
However, team manager Mick Kearney told reporters this afternoon that Bowe would be released for Ulster’s Pro12 meeting with the Scarlets on Friday night. That match could also see Stephen Ferris make his long-awaited comeback from an ankle injury with the backrow forward expected to be named on the bench.
Peter O’Mahony, meanwhile, has been declared fit for the match in Paris following his hamstring strain while Cian Healy, who sat out training this morning after injuring an ankle in the act of scoring his try against Italy, will return to the fold tomorrow. Conor Murray has also recovered from the illness that led to him being replaced early in the first half at the Aviva Stadium.
“Peter O’Mahony has made an excellent recovery from his hamstring strain and is expected to train fully this week,” Kearney explained. “Cian Healy took a knock on his right ankle scoring his try at the weekend. As a precaution he was put in a boot over night. We expect Cian will train tomorrow and Conor Murray’s tummy bug has settled.”
Ireland go into Saturday’s showdown with France knowing a win of any hue is all but certain to land the title due to their superior points difference. But with just one win in Paris in the last 42 years, history is against Schmidt’s side, a fact that outhalf Johnny Sexton is all too aware of.
“It shows how difficult it is to win there,” Sexton said today. “If we can go and win we’ll have earned it and given ourselves something to remember. It’s a chance to make history and I think it would eclipse 2000 (when Brian O’Driscoll’s hat-trick secured a famous win) because there’s a title on the line, there was nothing to play for then.”