Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Crocked Tuohy is a major doubt for Sarries game

Painful exit: Dan Tuohy leaves the pitch at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon after suffering his injury

Dan Tuohy is almost certainly out of Ulster's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens on Saturday April 5.

If he is to play in that match the 28-year-old will have to better Rory Best's phenomenal rate of recovery.

Like Best, who broke his right forearm playing for Ireland against the All Blacks on November 24, Tuohy suffered a similar fracture while on national service in the Six Nations meeting against Wales on Saturday afternoon.

Yesterday in Belfast the big lock underwent surgery to stabilise the fractured radius. The prognosis was worse than feared; he was told he will be out of action for eight to 10 weeks.

With that all-important Heineken Cup date now less than eight weeks off, he is required to recover ahead of the best-case-scenario date and right now that looks like being just too tight a deadline.

In the circumstances Tuohy will attempt to take heart from whatever source he can, not least from the fact that when his Ulster and Ireland team-mate Best suffered his injury in that memorable autumn Test, he managed to return within the outer-limit date predicted by the doctors, who had reckoned that he could be out for eight weeks.

Seven weeks later, on January 10, the hooker lined out for Ulster against Montpellier in round five of the Heineken Cup.

Not for the first time, Best had defied the medics by recovering faster than is normal.

But Best has long been famed for his remarkable speed of recovery after an injury; whether or not Tuohy is similarly blessed remains to be seen.

And even if he is, he needs to recover ahead of his best-case date, because if he were to do 'a Best' by returning a week ahead of the doctors' worst-case date, that still would not see him back in time to face Saracens.

In the mean time, all he can do is follow the programme provided by Ulster Rugby's head of strength and conditioning, Jonny Davis, and pray for what would be a miraculous recovery were he to make it back on time to face Saracens in 53 days from now.

And another of Ulster's second row forwards is also in a race against time if he is to be available to face the Scarlets at Ravenhill on the Pro12 on Friday night.

Lewis Stevenson, who picked up a neck injury – a forced flexion – against the Ospreys last Friday evening, will be reassessed later in the week.

But there is better news on centre Darren Cave who scored Ulster's try in their won over Ospreys.

He over-extended his left knee, but although he sat out yesterday's training session he is expected to be fit for this weekend.

Meanwhile Ulster have announced that the official opening date for their rebuilt Ravenhill Stadium is Friday, May 2.

With Leinster providing the opposition in what will be the penultimate fixture of the 22-match round robin series, the new complex will be packed to its 18,000 capacity.

Following the Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Saracens, further fit-out work will be carried out on the grandstand in readiness for the official opening a month later.

Work on a Memorial End Stand-based education and heritage facility, to be called the Nevin Spence Centre, plus a new community 3G pitch and other improvements will start in the summer.