Scan confirms Ruan Pienaar's knee damage is only 'minor'

Ruan Pienaar is leaving Ulster at the end of the season after seven years with the province
Ruan Pienaar is leaving Ulster at the end of the season after seven years with the province

Ruan Pienaar is expected to play in Ulster's European Champions Cup game against Exeter on Saturday after scans confirmed only minor knee damage.

Pienaar sustained the injury during Sunday's 28-13 defeat by Bordeaux.

Ulster's Director of Rugby Les Kiss said the prospects of Pienaar playing at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday now "looks promising".

Charles Piutau should also return after concussion while fit-again Tommy Bowe and Dan Tuohy may make the bench.

Pienaar returned to Belfast with the Ulster squad on Sunday with his leg in a brace but Kiss is optimistic he will be available for Saturday's must-win Pool 5 fixture.

"The scan showed that there was only very minor damage.

"It was just more around capsules and other medical terms in the knee, but nothing structural or major, which is a plus.

"Obviously there was a little bit of a jar in the knee, but he has trained some of the session today and looked well.

"We will give him until the last minute, but it looks promising."

Charles Piutau made his debut for New Zealand in 2013
Charles Piutau made his debut for New Zealand in 2013

Piutau sat out Ulster's back-to-back defeats away to Connacht and Bordeaux-Begles after suffering concussion in the Pro12 win over Ospreys.

Kiss said: "Charles is finalising his return to play protocols which we're very strict on, but it is looking in a positive direction as well".

Tommy Bowe may be recalled to Ulster's squad after playing for the 'A' side in the British and Irish Cup win over Jersey last Friday night.

The Ireland wing's only start of the season was against Connacht two weeks ago after suffering a serious knee injury at last year's World Cup.

"It takes a lot of time to get rhythm and timing back and he's had a significant knee injury," said Kiss.

"I thought it was a good runout for him [with Ulster 'A'], he did a lot of good things in the game so he's back in the frame, just like Dan [Tuohy]."

Tuohy has played two games for Ulster 'A' and is poised for a first appearance for Kiss' side since sustaining a foot injury 10 months ago.

Kiss admitted the players are "definitely hurting" after Sunday's poor performance in France when they conceded three tries in the final 10 minutes.

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