The news came as no major surprise on Monday when Ulster Rugby confirmed Nick Williams would spend a lengthy time on the sidelines after he limped heavily off the Ravenhill pitch during Friday night’s Heineken Cup Pool Four 23-6 win over Glasgow Warriors.
Rumours had been circulating since the end of the game that Williams’ knee injury was serious and head coach Mark Anscombe admitted while it was early days at that stage he was “very concerned” about the situation.
Williams was assessed on Monday by one of the Ulster surgeons when it was confirmed he had sustained medial ligament damage to the left knee and was expected to be out for up to eight weeks.
It just adds to Ulster’s already large casualty list with Tommy Bowe (due back in March) Stephen Ferris (also due back in March) Johann Muller (due back next month) just some of the key players who have not been involved with the squad for some time as they recover from serious injuries.
No 8 Williams scored the first of Ulster’s three tries against Glasgow last Friday which helped the Irish Province become one of three clubs to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup as group winners.
But Ulster are looking to press on this weekend and register a first historic win on French soil and put themselves in with an honest shot of getting a home draw in the last eight as one of the top four qualifiers.
To be certain of that they would need to score four tries and take five match points from the game, which in itself is a huge ask.
Williams’ physical presence would have been crucial in the set piece where Castres are at their strongest and also at the breakdown where the French side enjoy getting the maul rolling.
Roger Wilson, who is starting to return to his best form, will start at No 8 this weekend and will step up to the plate.
Meanwhile, tighthead prop, Adam Macklin damaged his knee playing for the Ravens against Bristol in the British & Irish Cup on Friday night.
He will be subject to an ongoing conservative management programme and will be reviewed in due course.