Steven Kitshoff heads home in concerning update for Springboks while Ireland centre suffers ‘significant’ knee injury

Adam Kyriacou
Ulster front-row Steven Kitshoff leaves the field.

Ulster front-row Steven Kitshoff leaves the field.

Springboks prop Steven Kitshoff has played his last match for Ulster after he flew home to South Africa to visit a knee specialist.

The 32-year-old suffered the knee injury during his side’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Clermont, a heavy defeat that ended Ulster’s European campaign.

A medical update released by Ulster on Tuesday revealed that the experienced Springboks forward has flown back to his home country for a further assessment.

Ulster departure

A double Rugby World Cup winner, Kitshoff recently signed with former team the Stormers ahead of next season, which brings an end to a brief stint at Ulster.

He had initially agreed a three-year contract at Ulster but the front-rower is set to head back to his former team, for whom he has made 134 appearances to date.

Kitshoff’s exit from Ulster was due to financial difficulties and a change of CEO and head coach, as the two parties mutually agreed an early end to his contract.

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“Since arriving in Belfast, I have really enjoyed my time in the Ulster jersey, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of such a great group of players and support staff,” Kitshoff said earlier this month.

“Ulster will always have a place in my heart, and I’m grateful to the supporters that welcomed me to a club and province that is undoubtedly a very special place.”

James Hume blow

Further bad news for Ulster fans was found in the medical update as centre James Hume will see a specialist knee surgeon after suffering a “significant” knee injury.

Hume sustained the injury against Cardiff in their narrow United Rugby Championship victory last Friday, with the Ireland international’s campaign also curtailed.

In other news, fly-half Jake Flannery (thigh), prop Tom O’Toole (ankle) and scrum-half Nathan Doak (groin) also suffered injuries during that same URC match.

Their availability for selection against an in-form Benetton outfit at the Kingspan Stadium this Friday will be monitored through the week, Ulster has confirmed.

“Friday night took its toll and we suffered a few injuries,” defence coach Jonny Bell told a media conference.

“We’re gutted about James [Hume] and we wish him a speedy recovery while Steven [Kitshoff] has an MCL injury and that’s the end of his time with us.”

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