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Ulster without two key players for Friday's showdown with defending champions

Les Kiss’ side welcome Scarlets to Belfast on Friday.

ULSTER HOPE TO have Charles Piutau and Marcell Coetzee available for next week’s trip to the Dragons, but both will miss this Friday’s Pro14 showdown with Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.

Charles Piutau is tackled by Clayton Blommetjies Piutua will definitely miss Friday's game against the Welsh side. Source: Darren Kidd/INPHO

The pair, who played in the opening weekend victory over the Cheetahs, have failed to shake off injuries they picked up last week and have been ruled out of the meeting with the defending Pro14 champions in Belfast.

Piutau missed Saturday’s win over Treviso with a hamstring injury while South African flanker Coetzee has been sidelined with a knee problem.

The Springbok only played four games last season for the northern province after suffering a serious knee injury, but Les Kiss is hopeful of having him back for the trip to Rodney Parade.

“We’re not concerned about Marcell. He’s just picked up a knock,” Dwayne Peel, Ulster’s assistant coach, said.

Craig Gilroy (lower back), Ross Kane (elbow) and Schalk van der Merwe (shoulder) also remain unavailable, while Lions Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Jared Payne should be available before the end of the month after their delayed return to pre-season.

When asked about the IRFU’s player welfare system and the gradual return to play protocols enforced by the union, former Welsh international Peel said: “It’s out of our control a bit.

Dwayne Peel Dwayne Peel at today's press conference at Kingspan Stadium. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

 

“I just think the guys need to get prepped and ready to play. You can’t rush them back too soon or you risk losing them for the end of the season or having that potential burnout at the end of the season.

“It’s got to be individualised, it’s got to be right for the player first and foremost and the player has to be right to come back in, otherwise if he’s not right physically and mentally it doesn’t help the team in any way. Getting the player physically fit and mentally ready is the biggest thing.”

Ulster have won their first two games of the new Pro14 season but their stiffest test to date will come against Peel’s former side, who themselves have got their title defence off to a 100% start.

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