Relief as Ruan Pienaar gets all-clear after injury scare
Ulster were handed a boost yesterday after it was revealed that Ruan Pienaar suffered no significant injury to his knee in Saturday's defeat to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
The Springbok scrum-half was substituted at half-time of the 31-20 defeat in west Wales and was later seen sitting on the bench applying ice to the joint.
That sparked fears that the influential playmaker could have re-injured the MCL that had already kept him on the sidelines for a large chunk of the season.
The 30-year-old originally picked up the knock while representing South Africa at the Rugby Championship in September after an accidental collision with teammate Duane Vermuelen during the Test with New Zealand.
Despite initial projections that he would miss only four to six weeks of action, the 80-times capped international was not seen again in an Ulster shirt until the recent Champions Cup double-header with the Scarlets and missed both of the European defeats to Leicester and Toulon, as well as his country's end of season tour to the northern hemisphere.
Another extended absence would have been a further blow to Ulster's already stretched resources but a statement released yesterday said that, after a scan, it was nothing more serious than a twisted knee and that the former Natal Shark will return to training this week ahead of the Boxing Day inter-provincial clash with Connacht.
Paul Marshall is on standby should Pienaar not make it.
England international Delon Armitage has been described as "an habitual offender" with "an appalling disciplinary record" in the written judgement of his latest appearance before rugby union disciplinary chiefs.
The Toulon full-back faced a misconduct complaint brought by European Professional Club Rugby following his team's Champions Cup defeat against Leicester at Welford Road earlier this month.
A complaint regarding an on-pitch incident was dismissed by an independent disciplinary panel, but he was found guilty of misconduct following a post-match episode with fans at the ground, and banned for 12 weeks.