Ireland have suffered a double blow with the news that Ulster pair Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding will miss the Six Nations.
Both were injured during Ulster’s heavy 60-22 defeat to Toulon, with Jackson going off in the first half, and Olding following suit after the break.
They are both suffering from elbow injuries, which are set to keep them out of action for up to three months, meaning neither will feature during the championship.
Fly-half, Jackson, has dislocated his elbow and will require surgery on an unstable joint as a result.
For his part, Olding has done significant ligament damage and will also need surgery to sort out the problem.
With Jonny Sexton also out at the moment because of concussion, Joe Schmidt’s options at fly-half are somewhat limited, with Ian Madigan now set to start.
The Leinster playmaker has been playing at centre for his province, but is the obvious starter in the absence of Sexton and Jackson.
Meanwhile Ulster suffered a third injury at the weekend when winger Louis Ludik fractured a rib. He is expected back by the end of February.