Young guns will keep us on our toes, says Bowe
When Tommy Bowe first broke through into the Ireland set-up, he remembers car journeys down the M1 with only David Humphries for company.
That was back in 2004, when Bowe was just 21 years old, whereas now, a mini-bus would be required to ferry the Ulster representation to national camps.
On the recent tour to South Africa, nine players from the northern province were handed caps by Joe Schmidt, while Robbie Henshaw and Conor Murray were the only backline players to start the second Test who do not call Kingspan Stadium home.
Having been held to a watching brief thanks to injury as the Pro12 got under way last week, Bowe believes there is plenty more emerging talent in the pipeline.
Young wingers Rob Lyttle and Jacob Stockdale grabbed headlines with three of the side's four tries against Newport with Bowe impressed by the duo who will lead the charge against Treviso today.
"It just shows the strides that we have made here," said the Monaghan man. "It's only just going to get stronger with the guys that we have in the Academy system and teetering on the edge of getting into the senior set-up.
"It was exciting to see the likes of Jacob and Rob have stormers last week. They went really, really well and have carried their form from pre-season into the Pro12.
"They've been looking sharp all year and that's excellent to see. It's a big part of what Ulster Rugby is. The succession plan and the work that's going in at Academy level, that's the future for the province."
At just 19 and 20 respectively, Lyttle and Stockdale will only improve. All Black full-back Charles Piutau, however, is already in his prime with Bowe eagerly anticipating his first chance to link up with the star signing.
"He's been excellent," said Bowe of the man who misses today's trip with a thumb injury sustained in training.
"Like the two young lads, he has the skill level and the class and has taken that into matches. He's a player who as a winger you just love to play off. He breaks the first tackle, he looks for offloads, he draws defenders and that makes space for you."
Summer signings Rodney Ah You and Kieran Treadwell will make their debuts at prop and lock respectively at Stadio Monigo while Stuart Olding wins a 50th cap.
Treviso - J Hayward; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, L McLean (capt), A Buondonno; T Allan, G Bronzini; N Quaglio, O Gega, S Ferrari; M Fuser, Filo Paulo; F Minto, M Lazzaroni, Marco Barbini. Reps: R Santamaria, A De Marchi, T Pasquali, F Gerosa, D Budd, E Gori, I McKinley, D Odiete.
Ulster - L Ludik; R Lyttle, L Marshall, S Olding, J Stockdale; B Herron, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Ah You; K Treadwell, F van der Merwe; C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Kane, P Browne, R Diack, A Lloyd, S McCloskey, D Cave.
- Treviso v Ulster, Live, BBC2 NI, 6.05