Ulster and Ireland secondrow Dan Tuohy will miss the majority of the Six Nations Championship because of thumb surgery. The player suffered a torn ligament in the province's victory over Treviso on Sunday and is expected to be out of commission for six to eight weeks.
Tuohy, who has signed a three-year contract extension at Ulster, had only recently returned following a broken forearm sustained in a league match last September that saw him miss out on Ireland’s November test matches against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.
Luke Marshall’s horrendous misfortune with injury continued after he suffered a concussion in training last week and he is now observing the return to play protocols. The 23-year old suffered four concussive incidents between March 9th, 2013 and late February of last year, although he did play in 26 matches last season.
The six-times capped inside centre played just one of the first six matches for Ulster in the present campaign as he was involved in a battle royal for his place against both Stuart Olding and Stuart McCloskey.
Knee ligament damage sustained while playing for the Ulster Ravens cost him two months on the sidelines and he only returned in December for the away match against the Scarlets in the Champions Cup.
Since then, he was a late withdrawal from the Pro12 game against Connacht, having played in the preceding game against the Ospreys and also the one on January 3rd, when he came on against Leinster at the RDS for the injured Tommy Bowe. His latest head injury meant he was ruled out of Sunday's away win over Treviso.
Aside from Tuohy and Marshall, Ulster will be without South African tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst - who suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury sustained in the Champions Cup match against the Scarlets at Kingspan stadium in December - for Saturday's European game against champions Toulon. Herbst had only just returned from the original injury. Ricky Andrew is another absentee with a perforated eardrum.
The province provided an update on a variety of medium and long terms casualties. Number eight Nick Williams is the closest in terms of return to play with the New Zealander expected back before the end of the month.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be hoping that secondrow Iain Henderson is on a roughly similar timescale. He has already taken part in some light training – he operated as a water boy in Treviso – as part of the rehabilitation process from the hip surgery he underwent last September. His return to competitive fare has been measured in weeks.
Andrew Trimble (toe) is expected back in mid February, centre McCloskey (elbow) in March, while there is no date for Chris Henry (heart) at present. Ruaidhri Murphy has recovered from the finger injury that he sustained playing club rugby for Ballynahinch in November.