More woe for Neil Doak as Dan Tuohy is sidelined once again
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
Ulster were dealt yet another injury blow yesterday with the news that lock Dan Tuohy will be on the sidelines again after suffering a thumb injury against Treviso last Sunday.
The Irish international will undergo surgery today to repair a torn ligament and is expected to be out of action for a period of around eight weeks.
It is the third long-term injury suffered by the robust lock over the past 12 months after he suffered a broken arm playing for Ireland against Wales last February and then missed eight games this season following a similar injury against the Cardiff Blues in September.
He will now be absent for Ulster’s concluding European games with Toulon on Saturday and Leicester the following weekend, while also being deprived of the chance to add to his nine Test caps during the upcoming Six Nations.
Alan O’Connor should once again deputise for Ulster in his absence but head coach Neil Doak admitted it is a big loss for both himself and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.
“It’s unfortunate for him because he was pushing himself into contention for that Six Nations spot so he’s got to get his head around that,” said Doak.
“The game has become so confrontational. You have to be so robust.
“He did unbelievably well to come back from the broken arm, and then to be out for another while will be disappointing for him.
“He’s a great ball-carrier for us and obviously his lineout work is tremendous.
“The way he carries and hits, you can see how valuable he is for us.
“Hopefully he can get back on the paddock for the back end of the season.”
There are fresh concerns over Luke Marshall, meanwhile, after he suffered his fifth concussion since March 2013 in training.
Ulster say the 23-year-old is following return to play protocols and there is no suggestion that he may be removed for a lengthy period, as he was back in 2013.
While moving forward without Tuohy and Marshall, Ulster will also not have Wiehahn Herbst for Saturday’s trip to Toulon after the prop re-aggravated his hamstring during the win over Treviso, while it appears Tommy Bowe and Rory Best are likely to be rested in line with the IRFU Player Welfare Programme.
The elbow injury sustained by Stuart McCloskey against Scarlets in early December will keep the young centre out for another six to eight weeks Nick Williams — also suffering from an ailing hamstring — should be available before the end of this month, which would bring him into contention after toe surgery in October.
New Zealand lock Ronald Raymaakers — yet to feature since arriving from Counties Manukau Steelers on a short-term deal in September — is unfortunately still absent, as is Ricky Andrew who has a perforated ear drum, although former Brumbies prop Ruaidhri Murphy is fit again after a finger injury.
Doak will soon have Irish international Iain Henderson available for the first time this season and the abrasive forward should provide a boost.
“Not that you want to trade one off for the other, you’d like to have both of them, but if Hendy comes back it would be great for us,” said Doak.
“He’s training at the moment but he hasn’t done a lot of contact stuff.”