CONNACHT HAVE BEEN dealt a heavy injury blow with new signing Marnitz Boshoff sidelined due to a shoulder injury that might not see him return until next March.
The South African out-half – capped once by the Springboks – suffered a shoulder injury in his first start for Connacht against Treviso last Saturday week and it is feared that it will be three months before he recovers from surgery.
Connacht, who lost Pro12 winning out-half AJ MacGinty to Sale Sharks during the summer as the Dubliner is not Irish-qualified after playing for the USA, have had difficulty off the tee this season and it had been hoped that Boshoff could be the solution.
Out-half Jack Carty managed a return of 60% against Wasps on Sunday in the Champions Cup, with two penalty attempts going askew at key moments in either half, the second miss coming when Connacht trailed by 20-17 going into the final quarter.
Wasps pushed on to claim a bonus point in a 32-17 triumph, with Connacht leaving empty-handed and under pressure to produce a result at the Sportsground on Saturday.
But with Craig Ronaldson already ruled out until mid-to-late January with a thigh injury, the extent of the shoulder injury suffered by Boshoff leaves kicking options fairly thin for Pat Lam.
Scrum-half John Cooney, outstanding off the tee in the recent win over Cardiff, is an option but he is hardly likely to replace Ireland international Kieran Marmion, who was outstanding on Sunday.
An injury to Carty — he was the only Connacht player taking place kicks in the warm-up on Sunday at the Ricoh Arena — would leave the Pro12 champions in an awkward position for the festive derby games away to Ulster and home to Munster, given that both Ronaldson and now Boshoff will be out for some time.
Boshoff’s arrival at the Sportsground was delayed as the 27-year old helped the Golden Lions reach the semi-finals of the Currie Cup.
The out-half, capped by the Boks off the bench against Scotland two years ago, made his Connacht debut as a replacement for the closing 13 minutes against Cardiff before suffering his shoulder injury seven minutes from the end of the win over Treviso.
Lam is also sweating on injuries picked up by Bundee Aki, Stacey Ili, Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher and Jake Heenan in Covnetry as Connacht plot a revenge mission against unbeaten Wasps on Saturday.
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