RaboDirect Pro12: Ulster facing injury nightmare after Saracens loss

RaboDirect Pro12: Ulster are facing an injury nightmare for their season run-in following a 17-15 loss to Saracens

Ulster face a selection nightmare after their bruising 17-15 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Saracens on Saturday with several key players out of the end of season run-in.

With five rounds of the regular season remaining, influential goal-kicking scrum-half Ruan Pienaar suffered a recurrence of acromioclavicular joint injury after being rushed back for the European clash and is expected to be out for six weeks.

The South African picked up the shoulder injury in the first half of the Ravenhill encounter and, with his side down to 14 men after full-back Jared Payne was sent off in the opening five minutes, battled on until the final 30 minutes.

But it is among the forwards where the damage was done with Ireland hooker Rory Best succumbing to a ‘significant ankle injury’ which could keep him out for eight weeks.

Meanwhile, front row colleague John Afoa picked up a disc injury in his back and will miss this week’s RaboDirect Pro12 interprovincial clash with Connacht on Friday.

Second row Dan Tuohy fractured a hand against the Aviva Premiership leaders and will undergo surgery this week, ruling him out until next month at the earliest.

Flanker Roger Wilson, another of the province’s starting forwards on Saturday, fracturing a thumb and joining Tuohy out until May.

Ireland winger Andrew Trimble was concussed against Saracens and will be out for at least six days as he follows the return-to-play protocols.

Payne, who collided in the air under a high ball with opposite number Alex Goode, will learn his fate at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Wednesday, and the New Zealander could find his stay on the sideline extended by at least a couple of weeks.

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