By Simon Hunter
It's mixed news for Ulster as Marcell Coetzee has avoided an ACL tear but will be out for the remainder of the season.
The back row forward injured his left knee against Zebre, and underwent exploratory surgery yesterday.
There were fears he had once again torn the ACL he damaged playing for South African side The Sharks.
Joint-captain Rob Herring spoke earlier to Q Radio Sport, and says Coetzee's made his mark.
His anticipated return to play is now estimated at four months, meaning he'll go through a full pre-season programme.
It's hoped he'll be back for the beginning of the 2017/18 season.
Ulster's Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, welcomed the update:
"It really is fantastic news. I think most people were fearing the worst, that Marcell had ruptured his cruciate ligament once again, so it's great to hear that he will be back sooner than we initially expected.
"He has had a tremendous impact since he joined the club, not only on the pitch, but also on the training paddock with his huge work ethic and infectious positive attitude. It's a great boost for the club, the supporters and most importantly Marcell himself, that we will see him back in an Ulster jersey at the start of next season.
"I have spoken to Marcell and he's really pleased with the prognosis. He is extremely grateful for the care he received from the Ulster Rugby medical team and the staff at the Ulster Independent Clinic, plus for all the messages of support he has received from the Ulster fans. I know from the way he faced the challenge of his previous rehab that he will be back even better than before."