Ulster's star Springbok signing ruled out for nine months after horror knee injury
Ulster have been dealt a major blow ahead of next season after their incoming back row Marcell Coetzee was ruled out for nine months with a knee injury.
The 24-year-old, who has won 28 international caps with South Africa, was on club duty with the Sharks last weekend when he sustained the injury in a loss to the Lions.
It immediately looked serious and the Natal-based side confirmed the severity of the injury on their Twitter account today.
"We can confirm that Marcell Coetzee has an ACL injury and is out for 9 months. He is to undergo an operation this week."
The arrival of the Springbok was eagerly anticipated as back row is one area where Ulster are a little light on top class talent. Coetzee is a ferocious tackler, a tigerish breakdown operator and a rambunctious ball carrier - the ideal back row, basically.
However, today's news means that he likely won't make his Ulster debut until late this year or possibly not even until 2017.
There was one bright spark regarding one of next year's Ulster players over the weekend, with All Black fullback Charles Piutau continuing to bamboozle defences as he crossed for the decisive try in Wasps' 25-24 Champions Cup quarter-final win over Exeter.