Ulster joy as Pienaar set for Leinster swansong
Ulster remain confident that Ruan Pienaar will make one last appearance for the province in Saturday's season finale against Leinster in Belfast.
The Kingspan crowd are desperate to give their departing hero a big send-off before his IRFU-enforced move to Montpellier this summer, with the province's PRO12 season coming to a close this weekend.
Pienaar, however, has been struggling with discomfort in his back having had to be substituted early on in the 24-10 defeat to Ospreys last week, which all but ended Ulster's top four hopes.
"He should be fine," revealed Ulster head coach Neil Doak yesterday.
The province also hope to see flanker Chris Henry return in that game after he injured his calf against Munster and missed the loss against Ospreys.
Centre Stuart McCloskey and wing Charles Piutau are both fighting to be fit after picking up knocks in that game, but Stuart Olding has suffered a "significant ankle injury" that will see him miss the visit from their inter-pro rivals.
Olding, who has had two ACL surgeries in his young career, has had a luckless run with injuries and now looks set to miss Ireland's summer tour to the USA and Japan.
Jared Payne, Clive Ross and Darren Cave have also played their last games for the province this season.
Payne, who will tour New Zealand with the Lions, is still out with an ankle injury that he picked up against Cardiff last month.
Meanwhile, former Welsh wing wizard Shane Williams has come out in defence of Toby Faleatau in the wake of criticism of his Lions inclusion by former All Black Zinzan Brooke.
Legendary No 8 Brooke criticised Faletau for lacking the "mongrel edge" to flourish on the summer's Lions tour, but Williams has dismissed the jibes as mind games.
"I know Taulupe very well, and I don't think he'd even watch or listen to anything that's being said out there," said Williams.