ULSTER and Ireland winger Tommy Bowe is set to miss the whole of this season’s RBS Six Nations Championship after knee surgery.
Bowe was carried off during Ulster’s Heineken Cup home defeat against Northampton last Saturday.
In a statement yesterday, Ulster Rugby said: “Tommy Bowe has undergone successful surgery on his knee and is now expected to be out for approximately four months.
“The winger sustained significant lateral ligament damage to his right knee in the closing stages of Ulster’s 10-9 Heineken Cup loss to Northampton.”
Ireland launch their Six Nations campaign against defending champions Wales in Cardiff on 2 February, before hosting England eight days later.
Bowe, who has scored 26 tries in 51 Tests, should regain full fitness ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia. He was a key member of the 2009 Lions squad in South Africa, starting all three Tests, and would be a leading candidates for coach Warren Gatland’s squad this time around.
For Ireland coach Declan Kidney, however, 28-year-old Bowe’s absence represents another major injury blow. Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien and Stephen Ferris all missed the recent autumn Test schedule, which Ireland ended with an impressive victory over Argentina.