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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Big blows for Ulster as Henderson and Burns ruled out of Toulouse clash

Wing Rob Lyttle is also sidelined after picking up a back injury.

Henderson will be missing on Friday night.
Henderson will be missing on Friday night.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

ULSTER HAVE CONFIRMED that captain Iain Henderson will miss Friday night’s Champions Cup opener against Toulouse at Belfast due to the knee injury he sustained while on Ireland duty last weekend.

Henderson was forced off in the first half of Ireland’s win over Scotland on Saturday and will visit a knee specialist this week.

He will definitely miss the Toulouse tie and Ulster are now waiting to see how long he will be sidelined for.

“It’s a big loss for us,” said Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. “Iain is a talismanic figure for us, he’s our club captain.

“He’s a big-game player for us and he’s played really big games for us in the recent past and throughout his career. Having said that, Al [O'Connor] and Sam Carter have been doing a tremendous job in the engine room and they’ll continue with that.”

McFarland indicated that the outlook isn’t great for Henderson as he heads to see the knee specialist.

“It’s not going to be a quick turnaround, I can tell you that,” said McFarland.

In a further blow for Ulster, out-half Billy Burns – who has often captained the side in Henderson’s absence – is out of Friday night’s clash with the French side.

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Burns picked up a groin injury during Ireland’s autumn Test run.

“To lose your captain and you lose your 10 as well, that a difficult one but again we’ve played a number of games over the past while and played pretty well, albeit not at the same level we’re about to face,” said McFarland.

“The guys that have played while Billy has been with Ireland have done a great job and we’ll be happy to trust in them.”

Wing Rob Lyttle will also be missing for the game at Kingspan Stadium after suffering a back injury in the recent Pro14 game against Edinburgh.

Louis Ludik [concussion], Luke Marshall [knee], Rob Baloucoune [hamstring], Will Addison [back], Angus Curtis [knee] and Tom Stewart [hamstring] all remain sidelined too.

Ulster did confirm better news earlier today when announcing that they will welcome 500 supporters to the Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

“Following the successful safe return of spectators to Guinness Pro14 home games in recent weeks, Ulster Rugby has continued to work closely with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive to allow the maximum number of fans, within the current government restrictions, to attend the upcoming fixture. That current maximum permitted number is 500,” reads a statement from the province.

“All available tickets will be made accessible to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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