Irish wing Tommy Bowe will return to play in Ireland next season with Ulster it was confirmed on Tuesday.
Following agreement from his current club Ospreys, Bowe has been given early release from his contract with the club to allow him to take up a new contract with the IRFU and to play in Ulster for the next three seasons.
Bowe began his professional career with Ulster, making a try scoring debut for the province in the 2003/04 season. His elevation to the senior Ulster team followed selection for the Ulster schools team and also playing at fullback and wing for the Ireland Under-21 team in 2004, being part of the squad that reached the final of the IRB U21 World Cup, but was ruled out of the semi final and final due to injury.
Bowe won his first cap for Ireland against the USA in the old Lansdowne Road the following season, scoring a try on his debut in November 2004. He continued to play for Ulster for the following three seasons, amassing 91 appearances and scoring 34 tries. During that time, he was part of the Ulster team that won the 2004/05 Celtic League.
At the end of the 2007/08 seasons he moved to the Ospreys club in Wales and continued to represent Ireland, being part of the Ireland team that won the Six Nations Championship in 2009 and was also selected to tour South Africa with the British & Irish Lions, playing in six games including all three Test matches.
The 2010 season was a particularly good year for the Monaghan man, being named as the Player of the Championship for the 2010 Six Nations as well as the IRUPA Player of the Year 2010 and the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year.
He was selected in the Ireland squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, scoring two tries against the USA in New Plymouth and has continued that form by scoring five tries so far in the Six Nations Championship for Ireland.
Bowe, a Ravenhill favourite, has enjoyed his spell in Wales, but is looking forward to returning to Belfast and said:
"Obviously, I have mixed emotions. I'm sad to be leaving a club and a region that I have been proud to call my home for the last three years and that has improved me immeasurably both as a rugby player and as a person," he said.
"I am indebted to the staff, coaches, management, team mates and fans of the Ospreys, for welcoming me so warmly and making my time here so special. That said, I am also delighted to be returning to Ulster, the Province I grew up wanting to play for and where my family live.
"I hope to repay the IRFU and Ulster's faith in me by contributing to a team that is already delivering. The vibe at Ulster is undeniably positive. I've been training and playing with some of the Ulster boys during the Six Nations and there is a real energy and sense of anticipation as to what lies ahead for this Ulster team."
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