Ulster’s exciting young Irish Under-20 international centre, Chris Farrell, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
The Fivemiletown youngster, who has made a big impression on the Ulster senior squad this season, suffered an ACL injury on Friday night in Ulster U20’s historic victory over Munster which secured their first ever Inter-Provincial Championship at that age level.
It was only confirmed on Tuesday after a scan that Farrell had suffered a cruciate tear.
He is expected to undergo an operation next month and will then begin the slow process of rehabilitation, joining prop Paddy McAllister, who suffered a similar injury, on the long-term physio bench.
Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe said: “It is a shame to lose Chris. We had some good plans for him this year. He was one of the developments this season.”
Ulster are close to having a full remaining compliment back in contention for places by next week’s home PRO12 game against Connacht, which comes a week before their Heineken Cup opener against Castres at Ravenhill on October 12.
Declan Fitzpatrick, Rory Best and Roger Wilson, remain unavailable for the game against Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital on Friday.
Anscombe said on Tuesday that a number of players who were continuing to be drip fed in would be in contention for the trip to Cardiff.
Among those were Paddy Wallace, who is returning from injury and was described by Anscombe as being like a young 20-year-old at training and chomping at the bit to get out on the playing pitch.
Anscombe is certainly likely to give some players returning some game time and also take the opportunity to rest others as the team look ahead to a big month of rugby in October – headlined by two huge Heineken Cup games.
Meanwhile, The RaboDirect PRO12 fourth round game between Zebre and Ulster, that was postponed following the tragic death of Ulster player, Nevin Spence, has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 18.