Ulster have been dealt a massive blow with the news that full-back Jared Payne will miss the rest of the season.
The versatile player from New Zealand was carried off during the first half of Ulster's 23-12 defeat by Treviso at Ravenhill on Friday night.
It is understood Payne, the province's big summer signing, has sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Payne, who will be 26 on Thursday, was making only his third appearance in an Ulster shirt.
The devastating loss of Payne added to a bleak night for Ulster as they fell to a third consecutive defeat in the Pro 12.
After losing two games on the road in Wales, coach Brian McLaughlin was desperate for a victory.
Instead, he witnessed a performance he later described as unacceptable.
"We did not play well enough in the first half and compounded error after error," said McLaughlin.
"We came back reasonably well in the second half but those errors still came back to haunt us.
"We are exceptionally diappointed with our display in front of our home fans."