Apart from the usual bumps and bruises, second rows Johann Muller and Dan Tuohy were the only two Ulster players to sustain injuries during Sunday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Northampton Saints.
South African Johann Muller sustained soft tissue damage in his right quad and will have ongoing treatment this week with a view to his availability for Saturday’s Magners League derby match against Leinster match.
His second row partner Dan Tuohy suffered a nasty facial injury to his right eye, but both X-ray and CT scans on Monday morning showed no bone damage.
Meanwhile, head coach Brian McLaughlin has paid tribute to the Ulster supporters who made the trip to Milton Keynes for the clash with Northampton and all those who passed on good luck wishes to the squad beforehand.
“I would like to thank the fans who made the trip over to Milton Keynes on Sunday, they were an absolute credit to their team and to their province,” he said.
“The messages of support we received ahead of the game were greatly appreciated and gave us a huge boost.
“The supporters have been fantastic all season, both home and away, and we are bitterly disappointed that we couldn’t get the result that the team and our fans desired.”
Ulster lost their grip on a 13-7 lead, which they held before half-time, and were held scoreless in the second half as Northampton won through to a home semi-final against Perpignan on May 1.
But McLaughlin is quietly confident that his side can challenge for European honours on a regular basis, after ending the province’s 12-year wait for their first quarter-final appearance.
“I’m very proud of the players, they tried their best and did everything that was asked of them. Northampton just came out with a very powerful performance in the second half and edged in front.
“It was a great experience for the players and we can take a lot from it. We have a number of young players and we hope next year we can push on from what we have achieved in Europe this season.”
Ulster remain right in contention to reach the Magners League play-offs and the carrot of a home semi-final is there for McLaughlin’s men. Saturday’s trip to Dublin to face Leinster could prove crucial in that regard.
“It’s good that we are sitting second in the Magners League and have something else to focus on now,” he added.
“We are looking forward to travelling down to play Leinster on Saturday and we’re expecting another physical contest. The game on Saturday is very important and we will need to bounce back straight away.”