THE season may be over before it has even started for Connacht's Dave Nolan and Ulster's Paddy McAllister.
Three weeks before the PRO12 League kicks off, promising lock Nolan has broken his leg for the second time in just over a year.
The 24-year-old missed all of last season when he broke his leg in a pre-season clash against Exeter. And he is now set for another campaign on the sideline after breaking the same leg in training.
"It's a cruel blow for Dave. He had worked so hard to recover from the injury last year and was really looking forward to the new season and then this happens," said Connacht coach Eric Elwood.
It is the latest setback for a player who has enjoyed little fortune on the injury front. The 6'6" lock, who was capped for the Irish U20 side but missed the World Cup after dislocating a shoulder, had been expected to feature prominently for Connacht in the new season.
New Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has been dealt a blow after McAllister suffered a serious knee injury in training that could see him miss most of the season.
The 23-year-old Ballynahinch loose-head was crunched during a tough session last week, tearing both his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligament. The initial diagnosis suggests it will be well into the new year before McAllister can return to action.
Ulster continue their pre-season build-up on Saturday afternoon with a game against Leinster Tigers at Ravenhill.