The race for the wing spots in the British & Irish Lions tour party is set to hot up this weekend as Irish challengers Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo both return to action for their clubs in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
Bowe, who figured in all three Tests on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, has been out of action since December, while Zebo was injured during the RBS 6 Nations and has missed nine weeks of rugby.
Ulster have selected Bowe, who damaged knee ligaments in an earlier round, among their replacements for their clash with English Premiership leaders Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, while Zebo goes straight back into the Munster line-up for their game at the Twickenham Stoop the following day against Harlequins.
“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,” said Ulster coach Mark Anscoimbe.
“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.
“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.”
Zebo passed a fitness test earlier in the week and Munster head coach Rob Penney had no hesitation in throwing him straight back into the side after skipper Doug Howlett pulled out with injury. Zebo scored a hat-trick against Racing Metro 92 in Round 6 to secure a quarter-final ticket for his side.