There has been a bit of debate about the IRFU player welfare system. Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor is a vocal opponent to the system.
But it appears that the IRFU have someone in their corner in regards to this issue.
61 times capped Irish international Tommy Bowe credits the player welfare system for taking care of his physical health. Bowe is one of the few Irish internationals that commanded an Irish jersey when he was playing outside of the country with the Ospreys. Speaking at Subway's #TrainWithTommy campaign, Bowe said that he thinks this took a heavy physical toll on his body:
When I was at the Ospreys, certainly the first two years, I played a huge amount; I was able to play week on week but really, after two years, I felt my body starting to break down a bit from 30 plus games.
Bowe is glad that he's back with Ulster where he's been able to play less games, and he thinks it's one reason why Irish players haven't fled these shores in their droves like their Welsh counterparts:
Since I have come back to Ireland, the player management system has suited me amazingly. The way they look after players, like that break between the Six Nations, has benefited me massively. It’s what keeps players in Ireland.
Bowe played close to 80 games for Ospreys in his first three seasons there, whilst also playing 20 international games in that period. In contrast, Bowe has only played 13 games for Ulster this season, with five of those coming in the Champions Cup. His form hasn't suffered with less games, and he's got a nice try rate in that period with a tally of seven.
Bowe also took the opportunity to express his excitement of Ulster's new All Black signing Charles Piutau:
I've seen bits of him from Super Rugby. He's a class player. I've spoken to Jared Payne and Joe Schmidt about him and they speak highly of him.
Piutau won't be joining Ulster until the start of the 2016/17 season, but he will be joining an already crowded backline already packed with the likes Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble, Louis Ludik, Jared Payne plus a number of exciting youngsters like Rory Scholes, Jacob Stockdale and Jack Owens. Needless to say, Bowe is looking forward to the competition:
He's 24, in his prime and he will be a serious signing for us going forward. It's another bloody winger, I'd be hoping he'd be a full-back!
But it's a huge, huge message for what Ulster Rugby are about. Making a big statement by signing Charles Piutau is a real sign that we mean business.
Which is an understatement to say the least. Ulster will be in a good position in the future, and will be looking to beat Munster and Leinster as Ireland's premier province.