Ulster face injury crisis for Treviso clash
Province’s frontrow hit the worst with props McCall, Ah You and Herbst all sidelined
Ulster centre Luke Marshall has been ruled out with an Achilles issue and will be sidelined for at least two weeks. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Presseye/Inpho
Even though they haven’t played since just about getting past Southern Kings at the start of the month, Ulster are now returning to Pro14 action weighed down by a worrying injury list ahead of Friday night’s home game with Benetton Treviso.
The frontrow has taken the brunt of the problem with props Kyle McCall (shoulder) Rodney Ah You (thumb), Wiehahn Herbst (calf) and back-up player Jonny Simpson all sidelined while backrowers Chris Henry, Jean Deysel and Robbie Diack will also be missing due to injuries.
As for picking up any much-needed returns from the Ireland camp this week – with Stuart McCloskey and Kieran Treadwell looking the most likely to be released by Joe Schmidt – Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss stated that nothing would be definitely known until later in the week.
In the meantime, Ulster – who are second in Conference B – will go with Christian Lealiifano at 12, meaning that Peter Nelson will be the starting outhalf and potentially form a half-back partnership with Paul Marshall who will be making his 200th appearance.
Christian Lealiifano will also lead the side while Kiss firmly scotched rumours that the Wallaby might be staying on at the Kingspan after his spell at the northern province concludes at the end of January.
There is some solace for the northern province as Treviso – Ulster were pretty unconvincing winners when the sides met in northern Italy back in September – are very likely to be severely depleted due to the national side’s clash with South Africa.
“We’ll see one or two youngster in there that we haven’t seen before,” said Kiss regarding Ulster’s selection.
“This is a pretty important game as we can stay in second or maybe sneak closer to the Scarlets at the top of the conference.”