After four months out with a knee injury, Ulster winger Tommy Bowe is poised to make his return, having been named in the match day squad to face Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Twickenham tomorrow evening (6.30pm).
The Ireland international has been sidelined since suffering knee ligament damage against Northampton in December and is named on the bench for tomorrow’s crucial European game.
All Black tight-head prop, John Afoa, returns to the starting XV after he missed the win over Leinster in Dublin as he was in New Zealand for the birth of his third child.
There are two further changes to the team that secured the province’s first win in the RDS.
Iain Henderson is preferred at blindside flanker to Robbie Diack who drops to the bench, while Luke Marshall starts at inside-centre having recovered from the concussion he sustained playing for Ireland against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations.
Ulster Head Coach, Mark Anscombe is delighted to have a player of Bowe’s calibre available for selection again and the Kiwi revealed the winger is itching to get back into the action.
“Tommy has trained very well. He is chomping at the bit to get out there – he has missed a lot of rugby and he wants to play,” Anscombe said.
“We want to accommodate him because he is a world-class player.
“It is a credit to our Head of Strength and Conditioning, Jonny Davis, and to Gareth Robinson, Alan McCaldin and the rest of our medical staff that he is ready.”
Tomorrow’s match will be the New Zealander’s first knockout European fixture since taking charge at Ulster and he is relishing the challenge.
“We're playing in the quarter-final of a great competition, at one of the best grounds in rugby, against the side leading the Aviva Premiership and there's going to be a big crowd.
“It doesn't get any better than that.”
Ulster (v. Saracens): J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa; J Muller (capt), D Tuohy; I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams.
Replacements: R Herring, C Black, R Lutton, R Diack, R Wilson, P Marshall, S Olding, T Bowe.