Ulster extend Andrew Trimble's deal but citings a blow
It was another case of some uplifting and also some not so welcome news seeming to arrive at the same time for Ulster.
First, the upbeat development which saw key player Andrew Trimble sign a new two-year Irish contract which will keep the hugely experienced and try-scoring winger with Ulster until summer 2017.
But running almost simultaneously with Trimble's immediate future being sorted out - he is currently sidelined for what is believed to be the rest of the season with a toe injury - came the revelation that both Roger Wilson and Luke Marshall have been cited following last Friday's win over the Scarlets.
Stand-in skipper Wilson has been cited for allegedly striking or punching a Scarlets player in the 25-20 victory at the Kingspan Stadium while centre Marshall is accused of kicking an opponent in the same game.
Both will face a disciplinary hearing later this week which could potentially see both ruled out of Sunday's Guinness PRO12 clash at the Dragons and would be a massive blow for coach Neil Doak who has already lost centre Stuart McCloskey for four weeks after a red card for a dangerous tackle in last month's win at Edinburgh.
Any potential loss of the influential Wilson could be offset by the return to fitness of Robbie Diack and the possible Ireland release of Iain Henderson but should Doak lose Marshall he will be forced to dig deeper into the squad's resources to fill the gap.
Either Louis Ludik, Michael Allen or indeed short-term signing Mike Stanley could be called upon to play in midfield should Marshall be hit with a suspension.
Trimble (30) is currently recuperating over a recurrence of the toe injury he picked up back in October, when he last played. He is thought most likely to get back on the pitch over the summer with a view to being involved in Ireland's World Cup warm-up games.
"I am delighted to have signed with Ulster for a further two years," he said.
"I hope to be back playing soon and will be aiming to put myself in the frame for selection for Ulster and Ireland over the coming months," he added.
Ulster Rugby Team Manager Bryn Cunningham underlined Trimble's importance.
"Andrew is a crowd favourite at Kingspan Stadium and a proven international performer, having won a multitude of awards last season," he said.
"It is a huge boost to Ulster Rugby that Andrew has committed to the province."
Trimble has played for Ulster 188 times since making his debut back in September 2005 and has scored 64 tries.
He has won 57 caps for Ireland, scoring 16 tries, and played a prominent role in last season's Six Nations title success.
Trimble has not featured for Ireland this season due to his injury.
Meanwhile, Doak has warned third-placed Ulster that they must be on top of their game to rack up a fifth straight PRO12 win in Sunday's clash at the Dragons, their last outing before Cardiff Blues come to Belfast on March 27.
"It's been a tough place to go to for us in the past and we've just got to make sure that our discipline's good and we're not too loose to give them opportunities," Doak said, while alluding to Ulster's indifferent away record this season which has seen them be successful only three times outside the Kingspan.