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Nick Williams was also 'unavailable for selection' for last weekend's round 15 trip to Treviso. It is understood that he returned to his native New Zealand last week and subsequently missed the game in Italy.

A statement issued this afternoon by Ulster Rugby read: "Nick Williams is unavailable for selection for Friday night's match against the Newport Gwent Dragons due to an internal investigation into alleged unauthorised absence.

"Ulster Rugby will make no further comment on the matter at this time."

The Auckland-born Williams had a terrific 2012/13 campaign for Ulster, with his barnstorming performances earning him the IRUPA Players' Player of the Year and RaboDirect PRO12 Player of the Year awards.

He signed a contract extension with Ulster in October, with the province securing his services until the summer of 2016. This season he has made 10 appearances to date, despite being curtailed by a recurring calf injury.

Speaking about the internal investigation at a press briefing today, Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe said: "We all hope the process doesn't take long - for all parties concerned it's best that these things are dealt with immediately and then we can all move on."

Fixtures & Results


PRO14 Table
Pos
Team
P
W
D
L
Pts
2Scarlets21141670
3Edinburgh21150668
4Ulster21122762
5Benetton211101055
Champions Cup Pool
Pos
Team
P
W
D
L
Pts
1La Rochelle640220
2Wasps630317
3Ulster640217
4Quins61057
British & Irish Cup (Ravens)
Pos
Team
P
W
D
L
Pts
PPG
1Ulster A6501233.83333
2C Pirates6402193.16667
3Scarlets Select6204101.66667
4Hartpury610581.33333
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