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Ulster 'hurt' by Bordeaux collapse but could be boosted by Pienaar and Piutau for Exeter

Les Kiss has delivered some encouraging injury news for the northern province this afternoon.

Pienaar took part in training earlier today.
Pienaar took part in training earlier today.
Image: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

ULSTER WILL GIVE Ruan Pienaar every chance to prove his fitness in time for Saturday’s must-win Champions Cup tie against Exeter.

The South African scrum-half left Bordeaux with his leg in a brace last weekend but the knee injury he sustained in the 28-13 loss isn’t as bad as first feared.

Les Kiss this afternoon revealed the scan, encouragingly, showed no major damage and he took some part in the squad’s training session in Belfast.

The province’s medical staff will continue to monitor Pienaar’s progress as the week progresses and they’ll wait until the last-minute before making a decision on his availability.

“The scan showed that there was only very minor damage,” Kiss explained. ”It was just more around capsules and other medical terms in the knee, but nothing structural or major, which is a plus.

“Obviously there was a little bit of a jar in the knee, but he has trained some of the session today and looked well. We will give him until the last-minute, but it looks promising.”

Charles Piutau, meanwhile, is expected to return to make his European debut for the province after missing the trip to France with concussion.

Les Kiss Kiss speaking at Kingspan Stadium earlier. Source: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

Dan Tuohy and Tommy Bowe may also be available for the Pool 5 clash at Ravenhill after enjoying good run outs for Ulster ‘A’ in the British and Irish Cup last weekend.

Kiss admits his players are ‘hurting’ after conceding three late tries to slip to a disappointing defeat at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Having nullified the threat of a powerful Bordeaux side for so long, Ulster were punished in the final stages to leave their European campaign hanging by a thread.

“It wasn’t in the plan,” Kiss says of facing a crucial game this weekend.

“The focus on this weekend is to get the points we need out of it to stay in the hunt and we have to turn up at home and do the job.

“Rob Baxter [Exeter head coach] has asked his players to get angry after their result and we need to be up for the challenge. That’s what this game is going to be about: physicality and that’s the type of game Exeter can throw at you.

Bordeaux-Begles' players celebrate the final whistle Ulster came away from France with nothing to show for their efforts. Source: Presseye/Nicolas Tucat/INPHO

“I’ll expect Exeter will respond but they’re also coming up against us and we’re disappointed in some aspects. You’ll expect they’ll come with something more and more importantly we have to be. We will meet a very angry and physical team.

“There has been a certain doggedness about their work this week for sure. I certainly know they weren’t comfortable with the fact they let a big team, we managed for most of the game and had done all the work to keep them out, slip away.”

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