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Tommy Bowe is set to be absent from Ireland's tour of South Africa following Ulster’s confirmation that he will miss the remainder of the Pro12 season.
After suffering a knee injury during the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina last October, Bowe finally returned to action in an Ulster victory over Zebre last month.
However, the 31-year-old was forced to undergo exploratory surgery following the encounter with the Italian side, and Ulster have confirmed that they do not expect him to return again until pre-season training commences.
"Tommy Bowe has had exploratory arthroscopy of his right knee to address discomfort he has been experiencing since the recent win over Zebre in mid-April," read a statement from the Belfast-based outfit.
"The surgery revealed no new injury and Tommy is expected to be fully fit for the start of pre-season."
The statement effectively rules Bowe out of Ireland's three Test matches against the Springboks, beginning on June 11 in Cape Town.
The former Ospreys man will miss the conclusion to Ulster's Pro12 season, with his side set to take on table-toppers Leinster in a semi-final clash at the RDS on May 20.