Tommy Bowe surplus to requirements

Peter O’Mahony looks set to return at blindside flanker following hamstring strain

Tommy Bowe: is surplus to requirements and has returned to Ulster.

Tommy Bowe: is surplus to requirements and has returned to Ulster.


Changes to the Ireland backline that faces France in Paris on Saturday evening seem unlikely following Tommy Bowe’s release to Ulster. Bowe recently returned from three months on the sidelines following groin surgery, scoring two tries against the Dragons at Ravenhill. He tightened in that February 28th fixture but was still recalled to the Ireland camp in Carton House ahead of last weekend’s Italy match.

Having consulted with Ulster coach Mark Anscombe and perhaps factoring in Andrew Trimble’s excellent form of late, Joe Schmidt felt Bowe, despite 26 tries in 54 tests, was surplus to requirements for the Six Nations championship decider at Stade de France. The 30-year-old will instead feature against the Scarlets in Belfast on Friday.

That match should also mark the return to first team action for Stephen Ferris. The 28-year-old has not played rugby since November 2012 due to an ankle injury. Ferris did not play any part in yesterday’s A match against Leinster but should be used off the bench this weekend.

Conor Murray has also fully recovered from stomach bug that forced his withdrawal on Saturday after just 16 minutes. Despite Eoin Reddan’s performance, Murray is expected to regain the number nine jersey ahead of his fellow Limerick man.

At least one change in the Ireland pack looks certain with Munster captain Peter O’Mahony to come in for Iain Henderson at blindside flanker following an intensive two-week recovery period from the hamstring strain he sustained at Twickenham. “Peter O’Mahony has made an excellent recovery from his hamstring strain and is expected to train fully this week,” said Ireland manager Mick Kearney.

“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 (Tuesday).”

Regular feature
Healy was replaced by Jack McGrath on 54 minutes but using his entire bench, or at least seven and certainly his frontrow reserves, has become a regular feature of the Schmidt coaching philosophy.

Healy was forced off the Lions tour last summer with an ankle injury and injured it again in December only to make a remarkable return from surgery in January. He has been heavily strapped on both ankles since his return. Dave Kilcoyne is next in line should Healy fail to reach match fitness.

Meanwhile, Seán O’Brien has spoken about his frustration with the length of time it took to reach an agreement with the IRFU over a new contract. At one stage last January O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip looked to be heading to French clubs but the union and both players respective agents eventually reached agreements.

“I was very honest from the word go where I wanted to be and where I wanted to get to,” said O’Brien. “It was drawn out for a couple of months.

“I think if the process was moved along a lot better and people were a lot more honest and open with each other it would be sorted a bit quicker.

“When people move the bar and are coming back with different answers and replies the whole time it is hard to get something sorted very quickly. But it is a process you have to take your time over.”

O’Brien, who turned down a chance to join European champions Toulon by signing a two-year contract to remain with Leinster, stated the situation did not hinder his performances although it did weigh heavily on him.

“It was on my mind all the time since it started. Deep down you are thinking about it at the back of your mind. You are not saying it to anybody, it’s in your own head. You try not let it affect your rugby.”