Dan Tuohy is set to be ruled out of the Six Nations after tearing a ligament in his thumb while in action for Ulster.
The Ireland second row will be out of action for six to eight weeks, leaving him in a race against time to be fit for the end of the tournament.
It comes just a week after Tuohy had signed a new contract with Ulster, and also means he will miss the remainder of the province’s European campaign which gets back underway in Toulon this weekend.
Tuohy had missed Ireland’s November Tests because of a broken forearm and is now set for another frustrating spell on the sidelines.
He is not the only Ulster player who will out of action for a while, with Luke Marshall having suffered another concussion, this time in training.
The talented young centre has now suffered five concussions in just two years, and will undergo the return to play protocols before he can think about a playing comeback.
“Luke Marshall suffered concussion in a training session last week. He is currently following the return to play protocols,” said a statement from Ulster.
It’s worrying news for Marshall, who has been hampered by injuries since breaking onto the scene with Ireland in 2013.
Fellow Irish international Jonny Sexton is currently taking an extended break after suffering a series of concussions of his own.