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Ulster decimated by front row injuries while Pienaar also sidelined

Les Kiss has also lost Craig Gilroy and Roger Wilson for Friday’s crucial clash with the Scarlets.

ULSTER HAVE BEEN dealt several heavy injury blows ahead of Friday night’s crucial Guinness Pro12 clash with the Scarlets, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar among those ruled out.

Director of rugby Les Kiss is also facing something of a front row crisis after the loss of a handful of key players in that department.

Ruan Pienaar down injured Pienaar is now sideline with a right knee injury. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

South African playmaker Pienaar sustained a right knee injury in the New Year’s Eve defeat to Leinster in Dublin and will see a specialist this week “to decide on further management,” according to Ulster.

Kiss will be hopeful that Pienaar’s return to action is swift, as the province look towards Champions Cup fixtures against Exeter and Bordeaux this month.

Loosehead prop Kyle McCall will be missing for those games and much of the remainder of the season after being ruled out for four to five months following a hamstring tear in the recent European clash with Clermont.

Joining him on the sidelines are hooker Rob Herring and tighthead Rodney Ah You, who both face six-week recovery timeframes after suffering knee ligament injuries against Leinster.

Deepening the front row concerns for Ulster is a calf muscle tear for tighthead Wiehahn Herbst, which will rule him out for four to six weeks.

With Ricky Lutton also still sidelined due to a toe injury, Ulster are left facing tighthead difficulties, with the inexperienced Ross Kane – just back from injury – and Jonny Simpson – who only made his debut against Leinster – left as the obvious options in the number three shirt.

The injury issues don’t end there for Ulster, however, with Roger Wilson [knee] and Craig Gilroy [ankle] both ruled out of Friday night’s visit to the Scarlets.

Ulster have also confirmed that Marcell Coetzee [knee], Peter Nelson [foot], Alan O’Connor [concussion], Stuart Olding [calf], Jared Payne [kidney] and Matthew Rea [shoulder] all remain sidelined.

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Murray Kinsella

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