Ireland wing Tommy Bowe will make an emotional return to his homeland for next year’s RaboDirect PRO12 season after revealing he has signed a deal with his native province Ulster.
Bowe, who currently plies his trade for the Ospreys, has hit top form in the Six Nations championship, crossing for two first-half tries in Sunday’s dramatic draw in France and taking his international tally to 24.
The 27-year-old’s contract with the Welsh region was due to expire at the end of the 2012-13 campaign but his former club Ulster have wasted no time in agreeing a deal to bring Bowe back home a year early.
And, after a four-year stint with the Swansea-based outfit, Bowe paid tribute to the Welsh club but couldn’t hide his excitement about being involved an exciting project with long-time mentor, and Ulster’s director of rugby David Humphreys.
“Obviously, I have mixed emotions,” said Bowe, who has signed a three-year contract.
“I'm sad to be leaving a club and a region that I have been proud to call my home and that has improved me immeasurably both as a rugby player and as a person.
“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.
“David Humphreys was a mentor of mine in my early playing days and we have remained friends during my time at the Ospreys. His vision for Ulster is impressive, with Ulster born players at the core of this vision.
“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.”