The future of Ulster South African signing Marcell Coetzee has been thrown into doubt as the 26 year-old continues to struggle with a knee injury.
The Springbok has decided to return to South Africa for a consultation on his left knee after a reoccurrence of the pain and swelling he had been suffering.
Coetzee arrived in Ulster in the summer of 2016 with a knee injury sustained playing for his old side the Sharks and signed up for a three year deal.
The flanker has had various knee joint problems but one sustained last season was not of the same severity as the first, with the damage being done to his medial meniscal cartilage rather than his surgically repaired ACL.
However his return to South Africa is due to the original ACL repair.
Ulster issued a statement outlining the issues surround the current sidelining of their backrow.
“Marcell Coetzee suffered a recurrence of left knee pain and swelling in training,” said the statement.
“Due to the ongoing problems with this knee, he is travelling back to South Africa to seek the opinion of the surgeon who performed his original ACL repair. Ulster Rugby will provide a further update following this consultation.”
Ulster will see the return of the injury as a significant blow due to the backrow’s impact in games and an offloading ability that has earned him 28 caps for South Africa.