Bowe blow for Ulster
Bowe blow for UlsterSHARE
Ulster will have to do without star wing Tommy Bowe when they get their European Cup campaign back underway against Treviso in Belfast.
The 2012 European Cup finalists have lost Bowe to a muscle tear that will see him sidelined for up to a month-and-a-half.
Bowe picked up the problem during his country's year-end Test series and will now miss the upcoming double header with the Italians and possibly the home tie with Montpellier next month.
"Tommy Bowe suffered a groin injury while on international duty with Ireland. A scan revealed that he has suffered a muscle tear and that he will be out of rugby for between four and six weeks," read a statement from Ulster.
The news is a huge blow to Mark Anscombe's men as they look to cement their place at the head of Pool Five following an opening 22-16 win over Leicester and a famous 25-8 triumph against Montpellier in France.
They currently have a two-point advantage over the Tigers at the top of the table but will be hoping for tries as well as points at Ravenhill on Saturday night.
Bowe is one of the tournament's most potent attacking weapons having scored 24 tries in 54 appearances since his competition debut back in the 2004/05 campaign.
The 29-year-old was a try scorer against Leicester last month and has started both European games so far this term after recovering from the wrist injury that had threatened to bring his summer British and Irish Lions tour to a premature end.
Ulster have also learnt that prop Paddy McAllister is facing a similar spell on the sidelines after suffering a small tear to his hamstring, while flanker Mike McComish and hooker Rob Herring are doubts for this weekend, with McCormish only having returned to training yesterday after a blow to his hip and Herring not set to train until later this week due to the stinger he suffered in the recent win over Zebre.
There was good news regarding skipper Johann Muller, though, with the South African lock fit to feature against Treviso having returned to full training following the calf muscle problem that has kept him out of action since the domestic win over Cardiff Blues in late October.
Fullback Jared Payne and scrumhalf Ian Porter are others who could return alongside Muller, while centre Paddy Wallace will also be back in contention having been unavailable for more than eight months with a cruciate knee injury.
The veteran playmaker is unlikely to win back a place in the matchday 23 immediately but he could be involved in the return tie with Treviso if, as expected, he turns out for Ulster's second team this week.