Ulster and Ireland's Rob Baloucoune suffers another hamstring blow

Ulster’s Robert Baloucoune faces another spell on sidelines
Paul McIntyre

ROBERT Baloucoune's hopes of making this season's Ireland Six Nations squad have been hit after Ulster yesterday confirmed that the winger picked up a hamstring injury during last Saturday's defeat away to Benetton.

Baloucoune had only recently returned to the Ulster fold following a previous hamstring injury and was coming back into the sort of form that has seen him become one of Irish rugby's most feared attackers.

As well as potentially ruling him out of the Six Nations, this latest setback also puts him out of Ulster's crucial Champions Cup games away to La Rochelle on Saturday and Sale one week later.

Flanker Sean Reffell also looks set to miss out on the upcoming European double header.

Reffell, a summer signing from English Premiership side Saracens, only made his debut in the New Year's Day derby reverse against Munster at Kingspan.

Reffell topped off a solid debut by making a staggering 42 tackles, a performance which saw him hold on to the number seven jersey for last week's trip to Italy.

But an ankle injury now looks likely to keep Reffell on the sidelines for the coming weeks.

In what was a very costly weekend for the province, Matty Rea also joined those on the injury list.

Rea was lining out for the Ulster A side in a challenge game against English Championship side Ealing Trailfinders when he sustained a foot injury.

In their weekly medical update, no timeframe was given for the players' length of absence, with the statement only confirming that all three are currently unavailable for selection.

It has also been confirmed that Marty Moore's worst fears have been realised with the news that he has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee.

The former Wasps and Leinster prop will now meet with a knee surgeon in the coming days. The injury looks set to keep Moore out for the rest of the season and possibly well into the next.

The URC also confirmed yesterday that Ulster's un-played game in South Africa against the Sharks has been rearranged for Saturday, February 25 in Durban.

The game will have a UK kick off time of 12 noon to avoid a clash with Ireland's Six Nations game with Italy which will take place that afternoon.

The original fixture was postponed last October when the Ulster travelling party was hit by an outbreak of gastroenteritis.