Thursday 19 April 2018

Ulster hand weakened until new year after Muller sidelined by thumb injury

Ulster have been rocked with the loss of skipper Johann Muller who underwent surgery yesterday to repair damage to his thumb and will be sidelined for up to eight weeks.

The 26-times capped Springbok lock ruptured ligaments around the thumb during Friday's Pool 4 clash against Glasgow. Although Muller stayed the distance during the game, he underwent a scan on Saturday and subsequently went under the knife the following day.

Muller, who is in his second term as captain, has proved to be an inspirational leader both on and off the pitch and he will be sorely missed as Ulster continue their unbeaten run on two fronts.

The former Sharks forward, whose contract with Ulster runs out at the end of next June, is expected to be out of action until the new year and will miss the big Pool 4 back-to-back clashes with Northampton in the middle of December.

It will give Lewis Stevenson a chance to step into the breach alongside Dan Tuohy. Stevenson has been a revelation after a quiet time last season and will be battling for the other lock position alongside Ulster Ravens skipper Neil McCombe, who saw his side lose 34-28 away to Bristol in the British and Irish Cup.

The Ulster captaincy will be handed on to flanker Chris Henry, who has led the side on numerous occasions and is a very respected and inspirational player.

Ulster are back in Pro12 action this Friday when they are away to the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Irish Independent

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