With the countdown to Friday night’s vital Heineken Cup Pool 4 game against Glasgow Warriors gathering momentum, Ulster have delayed making any decisions on their walking wounded.
Following Friday night’s emphatic but costly 47-17 PRO12 victory over Scarlets, Ulster had intimated that they would issue a statement yesterday following a more complete assessment of the injuries picked up by Dan Tuohy (calf muscle tear), Luke Marshall (finger), Adam D’Arcy (ankle) and Ricky Andrew (shoulder).
Last night, however, Ulster revealed that there were still decisions to be made by the coaching staff. Having seen the results of the various scans and been made aware of the doctors’ findings, now they must decide how best to proceed.
But those discussions only partly explain the delay, for undoubtedly Ulster are giving their injured players as much time as possible to prove their fitness.
Last night a spokesman for Ulster Rugby told the Belfast Telegraph: “There are still a few calls that need to be discussed by the coaches so there will be nothing until Tuesday or Wednesday.”
The best case scenario is that some of those who picked up injuries against Scarlets are so close to being fit that one more day will give them the necessary time in which to recover.
Certainly full-back Jared Payne (groin) is a player to whom Ulster will give as much leeway as possible. Coach Mark Anscombe made no secret of the regard in which he holds his fellow-Kiwi.
There may also be an element of bluff; it would not be the first time that Ulster have attempted to dupe opponents into believing that there is an injury where none actually exists.
Last season, they first propagated and then persisted with the story that Stephen Ferris was in danger of missing the Easter Sunday Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Munster at Thomond Park because of an ankle sprain. In reality, there was never any danger of Ferris missing out.
But definitely out are captain Johann Muller (broken arm), Ferris (ankle tendon) and Tommy Bowe (lateral ligament). All three have recently undergone surgery.