Ruan Pienaar: Fitness concerns over Ulster star for Exeter European game ease

Ruan Pienaar grimaces as he tackles Bordeaux's Yann Lesgourgues in Sunday's game
Ruan Pienaar's leg was in a brace when he returned to Belfast on Sunday night

Ruan Pienaar could still feature in Ulster's European game against Exeter on Saturday after fears that he sustained a knee injury in Sunday's defeat by Bordeaux eased.

The Springboks star's leg was in a brace when he returned to Belfast with the Ulster squad on Sunday night.

However, Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss said on Monday scans had revealed "no damage of major proportions".

"We had really good news about Ruan earlier today," said Kiss.

"The scan just showed a couple of things that you would expect with a jar on the knee.

"We'll just need to see how the next 24 or 48 hours go and then we'll take a decision but it looks very positive."

Pienaar in final Ulster season

The scrum-half, 32, will leave Ulster at the end of this season after the IRFU refused the province's request to extend his contract for another contract extension after seven years with the club.

Ulster need a victory to get their European hopes back on track after the concession of three late tries saw them losing Sunday's opener 28-13.

Kiss felt the turning point in Sunday's contest was just before half-time when prop Andrew Warwick knocked on when he seemed certain to score a second Ulster try which would have extended their lead to 15-3.

"If we put that try over the line, it's game over," added the Ulster boss.

"We've got to be a little more clinical and desperate to win those moments."

The Australian had no complaints with his team's commitment on Sunday but said the failure to clear their lines on a few occasions in the second half, when faced with Bordeaux pressure, had been punished.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Bryn Cunningham 'gobsmacked' as Ulster fall to Bordeaux defeat

"We were never going to put a big scoreline on them.

"We just gave them the access to our try-line for too long and when we tried to get out, we did it poorly a few times.

"That kept giving them a chance with their big forwards who hurt us."

Kiss knows that Ulster must regroup with a win in Saturday's second European game against Exeter to maintain realistic hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages with two games against French giants Clermont coming up later in Pool Five.

Clermont hammered the English Premiership side 35-8 at Sandy Park on Sunday as Exeter's early-season struggles continued.

Exeter reached last season's Premiership final but they have lost three of their opening six games in their domestic competition.

Top Stories