New Ulster signing Ruan Pienaar could have to wait a bit longer to make his Magners League debut after injuring his shoulder in the Currie Cup.
The versatile Springbok, who can play at either scrum half or outside half, damaged the AC joint in his shoulder after coming on as a replacement in Natal Sharks’ Currie Cup win the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend.
Pienaar was among a handful of South African players who were released back to their provinces by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers at the end of the away leg of the 2010 Tri-Nations campaign.
One of three South African players signed in the summer by Ulster – Johan Muller and Pedri Wannenburg have already linked up with their new team mates in Belfast – Pienaar is due to join the Irish side on 1 September.
His new employers had given him the green light to play in the Springboks’ final Test in the Tri-Nations against Australia in Bloemfontein on 4 September, but his potential involvement in both that game and the other home clash with the Wallabies in Pretoria on 27 August are now in doubt.
So, too, is his availability for the third meeting of the championship with the unbeaten All Blacks at Soweto’s Soccer City stadium on 21 August. That game is due to be the 100th Test outing for Pienaar’s Sharks team mate John Smit.
The injury could take as long as six weeks to recover, which could see him miss the mouthwatering Magners League Round 1 match with the reigning champions, the Ospreys, at Ravenhill and the away trip to Italy to face newcomrs Aironi Rugby the following weekend.