Springbok flank Marcell Coetzee in action for Ulster against the Cheetahs in the PRO14. Photo: Darren Kidd/Presseye/www.Inpho.ie

ULSTER – Springbok flank Marcell Coetzee, who plays for Ulster in Ireland, has been ruled out for nine months because of a serious knee injury.

Coetzee has played only once this season, and now has returned to South Africa for further surgery.

Coetzee has had recurring left knee problems because of a glitch in his previously repaired anterior cruciate ligament, and to repair this, he has had revision surgery performed on the ligament.

Bryn Cunningham, Ulster’s operations director, said: “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 big impact for us, but he’s only played five games altogether – that’s not his fault, it’s nobody’s fault.”

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 PRO14 opener against the Cheetahs, impressing alongside fellow South African loose forward 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.

African News Agency (ANA)