Will Addison suffers injury blow while Ulster line up tighthead cover for South Africa trip
Will Addison will miss Ulster's first game of the season this weekend due to injury.
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Head coach Dan McFarland confirmed that the centre, who is on stand-by for Ireland should Robbie Henshaw fail to return at the World Cup, has a 'lower limb' problem.
There is as yet no indication as to the extent of Addison's injury although, with Henshaw yet to return to full training in Japan, it's another unwanted complication for province and nation.
The centre was pulled out of Ulster's starting XV for the pre-season friendly in Glasgow earlier this month, James Hume stepping in just minutes before kick-off.
Speculation mounted that Addison was about to be called in to the Ireland panel to replace Henshaw but the international camp are 'hopeful' that the Leinster man will return to training this week.
Addison's absence is not the only worry for his province ahead of the PRO14 opener against Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7.35pm).
Missing from the pack will be prop Marty Moore and back row Nick Timoney, who picked up a hand injury in the friendly defeat in Glasgow.
Moore, who has been out with an ankle ligament injury since April, is expected to return in time to face Cardiff Blues on October 25 but, with his injury in mind coupled with Gareth Milasinovich's long absence, Ulster have tighthead cover lined up to bring in for the trip to South Africa, where they will play back-to-back games against Cheetahs and Kings.
"We'd be hopeful that potentially Marty would be fit for the Cardiff game which is after we get back from South Africa," said McFarland.
"There's a down week so if he is fit for that week, we won't need to look any further. If he isn't, with having some cover for South Africa - I can't tell you who that is at the moment - then we at least buy ourselves some time to see how Marty's rehabilitation goes."
Wingers Robert Baloucoune and Rob Lyttle are also expected to feature when Ulster release an official injury update later this week.
Belfast Telegraph Digital