Paddy Jackson's new injury blow is no joke for Ulster coach Neil Doak
Ulster have been rocked by yet another huge blow on the injury front as both Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding will be sidelined for three months after they had to be replaced during last weekend's record European defeat at Toulon.
That means the pair will miss the entirety of RBS 6 Nations Championship.
And just to add to Ulster head coach Neil Doak's problems, Louis Ludik is also going to be missing until some time next month after it was confirmed that he fractured a rib during the 60-22 reverse in the south of France.
It was known that Jackson had dislocated his elbow during the first half of last Saturday's crushing defeat, but the extent of his problem was only revealed yesterday and the 23-year-old will now require surgery due to having sustained an unstable joint and will not be fit again for what was said to be 10-12 weeks.
The nine-times capped Ireland player, who missed out on the autumn internationals and whose earlier back injury had also sidelined him from Ireland's summer tour to Argentina, now looks likely play no part in the Six Nations where he was hoping to challenge Ian Madigan for the number 10 shirt with Jonathan Sexton already out of the opener against Italy on February 7.
Olding, who like Jackson returned from France at the weekend with his arm in a sling, sustained significant ligament damage to his elbow at the Stade Felix Mayol and this too will require surgery likely to also keep him out of playing for what was stated to be somewhere between 10 and 12 weeks.
The 22-year-old, who scored his first try for Ireland when winning his second cap against Georgia last November, would also have been hoping to feature on Joe Schmidt's radar but his absence is a very significant blow for Ulster who are already without inside centres Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall.
With Jackson gone - and Olding also a possible out-half option - Doak now will now have to use either Ian Humphreys or Ruan Pienaar at No.10 with five PRO12 games to play in February and March.
In a very hard fought Danske Bank Medallion Shield clash Armagh Royal edged out Dungannon Royal 13-7 to book a trip to Sullivan Upper in the fourth round on Saturday week.
Armagh certainly had the better of the first period with Matthew Reaney kicking an early penalty. Reaney, the captain and centre, then kicked through and gathered to cross in the corner.
The home team was in charge at this stage and they increased their advantage when No. 8 Ryan O'Neill picked up from the base of a scrum to make it 13-0 by the interval.
With seven minutes remaining Dungannon gained a deserved try when the forwards rolled forward for Josh Fegan to touch down and Adam Evans to goal.