Ulster were rocked with another major injury blow on Tuesday night when British Lion winger, Tommy Bowe, was ruled out for up to six weeks.
Bowe, like fellow Lion and hooker, Rory Best, will miss the vital Heineken Cup Pool Five fortnight against Treviso as well as the big Irish derbies in the RaboDirect PRO12 over the festive period.
Bowe suffered an injury to his hip and groin while on international duty with Ireland during last month’s Guinness Test series.
He had a scan yesterday afternoon which revealed a muscle tear, putting him out for between four to six weeks.
It has been a torrid fortnight for Ulster on the injury front with Best, Stuart Olding, Lewis Stevenson, Iain Henderson and Nick Williams all ruled out for lengthy spells.
Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, admitted on Tuesday he did not expect Bowe to be available for Saturday evening’s home Pool Five match against Benetton Treviso.
Prior to confirmation of the extent of Bowe’s injury last night, Anscombe had been feeling upbeat with the return of skipper Johann Muller from injury along with the return of Ruan Pienaar from international duty.
Anscombe said: “It has been a rough couple of weeks from an injury point of view.
“Sometimes you can think you are hard done by or are simply unlucky, but every team experiences the same thing.
“It was obviously a relief to come through reasonably unscathed last week and in some positions we have a selection headache and in others we are a bit light,” added Anscombe.
The only lingering doubt remains with Jared Payne who is hoping to return to the team this week as he continues to deal with a troublesome groin.
Indications at this stage are that he will be available.