Star man Charles Piutau's injury blow to Ulster Euro hopes
Ulster have been dealt a huge injury blow ahead of their Champions Cup opener against Bordeaux-Begles with the news that marquee signing Charles Piutau is not expected to prove his fitness in time to feature.
The All Black superstar was brought in to end a two-year exile from Europe's quarter-finals but a concussion means his first outing for the province on this stage will be delayed.
Having missed the defeat to Connacht last Friday, it had been hoped the 24-year-old would be back in time for the visit to France on Sunday but he is yet to pass through his return to play protocols.
With Springbok Marcell Coetzee still to make his debut due to a knee injury, Ulster will start their continental campaign without either of their big-money additions. And there will be no place for Tommy Bowe when Les Kiss' squad is confirmed this lunchtime.
With co-captain Andrew Trimble fit again, it is he who is expected to fill in while Bowe will instead be on duty for the Ulster second string against Jersey at Shaw's Bridge tonight.