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Ulster hopes of replacing Marcell Coetzee start to fade

By Jonathan Bradley

It appears at present that Ulster will not be getting the green light to sign a short-term replacement for the injured Marcell Coetzee.

The star Springbok has been recruited on a three-year deal to bolster Ulster’s back-row options next season but sustained a serious knee injury representing the Sharks in Super Rugby last month and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

It is understood that Ulster tested the waters with the IRFU to see if a short-term replacement could be secured to cover his absence, much in the same way Stefan Terblanche arrived when Jared Payne ruptured his Achilles shortly after making his debut in 2011.

The response, however, is believed to have been lukewarm.

“That’s just as it is now,” said Les Kiss yesterday when asked if he could confirm the reports.

“We’ll move on and see where it goes in the future. We don’t control that at this stage,” he added.

With Coetzee and Charles Piutau arriving, and Ruan Pienaar and Franco van der Merwe still in place, Ulster have already had to strike a deal with the IRFU to keep South African utility back Louis Ludik for an additional season before he becomes Irish qualified next summer.

While there remains optimism within Kingspan that the South African could be back ahead of the nine month timeframe initially stated - the third and fourth rounds of Champions Cup action are the middle weekends of December - the departure of Nick Williams, the continued injury problems of Willie Faloon and possible Irish involvement for Iain Henderson and Chris Henry could leave the side short throughout the opening months.

The continued emergence of Sean Reidy has been a real plus however and Kiss again liked what he saw from the native New Zealander against Leinster.

"I spoke to the guys during the week when we decided to go down that route," said the Aussie of his decision to pair Reidy and Henry together from the start.

"I had no doubt it would be effective but they had to deliver in tandem and the team bought into it to deliver around it.

"It also allowed us to unleash Roger (Wilson) who was like a bashing ball when he came on.

"Robbie (Diack) is always standing up for us when he comes in at back-row or lock.

"What we saw between Chris and Sean was pretty good for us," he added.

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