IRELAND HOOKER RORY Best has been ruled out for several weeks after suffering a fractured right arm in yesterday’s 24-22 defeat to the All Blacks.
The Ulster man was forced off the pitch as early as the 15th minute, having already scored a try for Joe Schmidt’s side as well as attacking the breakdown with his usual level of vigour.
An x-ray immediately after the New Zealand clash revealed the fracture and Best is now set to miss both of Ulster’s Heineken Cup games against Treviso in December. That may mean some European game time for the talented Niall Annett, but losing their talisman of a hooker is a blow for Ulster.
As was featured on Against the Head on RTE last night, Best threw himself into a ruck – in an effort to clear it out – 30 seconds after he fractured his arm. The hooker was well aware of his injury when he pitched into the ruck on behalf of his teammates.
Schmidt will be hoping that the 31-year-old will have recovered in time for the 2014 Six Nations opener against Scotland on February the 2nd in Dublin. Sean Cronin’s performance yesterday after replacing Best was encouraging, but the Ulster man remains one of Ireland’s leaders.
Ulster also have concerns over the fitness of Iain Henderson [hamstring] and Lewis Stevenson [knee] following Friday night’s convincing win over Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12. Both locks are expected to miss several few weeks’ action too.
Meanwhile, Nick Williams is set for a six-week spell on the sidelines after aggravating a calf injury, while Michael Allen and Ian Porter are also undergoing treatment for concussion and AC joint problems respectively. Mark Anscombe’s men travel to Italy to face Zebre on Saturday.
– First published at 14:30