Ulster have confirmed that Marcell Coetzee underwent surgery this week in South Africa. He has had recurrent left knee problems because of a laxity in his previously repaired anterior cruciate ligament, and to repair this he has had revision surgery performed on the ligament. His anticipated return-to-play time is nine months.
Bryn Cunningham, Ulster’s operations director, commented: “First and foremost, this is a massive blow for Marcell himself and we are all devastated for him. We were hoping he was going to have a massive impact for us but he’s only played five games – that’s not his fault, it’s nobody’s fault.”
Marcell Coetzee has endured an injury-ravaged time at Kingspan Stadium since his arrival in 2016. He got back to full fitness to start four league games for Ulster last February and March before sustaining his second season-ending knee injury in the space of a year.
The Springbok back rower returned in last month’s GUINNESS PRO14 opener against the Toyota Cheetahs, impressing alongside fellow South African Jean Deysel, but this latest setback means he will now focus on recovering in time for pre-season training next summer.
Coetzee’s contract with Ulster runs until the end of the 2018/19 season and Les Kiss and his coaching staff will hope the 26-year-old can put his injury woes behind him and get a run of matches under his belt next year.
Meanwhile, the latest injury update from the Ulster camp revealed that Chris Henry sustained trauma to his larynx during the derby game against Connacht and was unavailable for selection this week. It is hoped he will be fit for selection for next week’s Champions Cup round 2 trip to Glasgow.
Alan O’Connor sustained a concussion in the interprovincial win over Connacht and is following the return-to-play protocols, while David Shanahan tore his right hamstring playing for Ballymena last Friday in the Ulster Bank League and it is estimated he will be unavailable for the next three to four weeks.
Robert Lyttle sustained a right shoulder injury playing for Banbridge against Ballymena in the same match. He was unavailable for selection this week. These players join Craig Gilroy (back), Jared Payne (headaches), Rory Best (hamstring) and Nick Timoney (ankle) on the province’s current injury list.
Former Golden Lions, Cheetahs and Montpellier prop Schalk van der Merwe, whose move to Ulster was announced in March, has resumed full training and it is anticipated he will return to rugby next weekend.