Trimble out until October
Ulster have been hit with a major injury setback after Andrew Trimble was ruled out until October after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture dislocation of a finger on his left hand.
He sustained the injury while playing for Ireland against New Zealand in New Plymouth in June.
The injury was fully investigated when the Ireland winger returned to training with Ulster this week after a break.
Trimble will miss Ulster's opening month of the Magners League season but should be back in time for their Heineken Cup opener with Italian side Aironi at Ravenhill on October 8. However, it wasn't all bad news for Ulster with South Africa half-back Ruan Pienaar set to link up with the side at the start of September after agreeing a release from his Natal Sharks contract.
The 26-year-old, a World Cup winner who can play at scrum-half or out-half, is currently part of the Springboks squad competing in the Tri Nations but had agreed his move to the Ravenhill side in May.
His two-year deal will begin on September 1 although he will be allowed to play for South Africa if selected for their Tri-Nations finale against Australia on September 4, which means he may miss Ulster's Magners League opener against the Ospreys.
Ulster operations director David Humphreys said: "We're delighted to have concluded the contract negotiations around Ruan's move to Ulster. We look forward to welcoming Ruan to Belfast in September, he is one of the biggest signings made in Ulster Rugby's history."