Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has confirmed Cumbrian utility back Will Addison has been ruled of their opening game of the season.

The Penrith-born man, who will miss Friday’s PRO14 clash against the Ospreys, had been talked about as a player likely to be on his way to Japan to replace Robbie Henshaw at the Rugby World Cup.

But McFarland told The Irish Indepedent: “Will’s not available to play.

"He’s got a lower limb injury and is not availableat the moment.”

This comes after Addison, from King’s Meaburn, played no part in Ulster’s final pre-season friendly two weekends ago in the defeat at Glasgow Warriors when he was stood down from the starting side.

Ulster forward Nick Timoney will miss Ulster’s first PRO14 match of the season, as well, due to a hand complaint.

But at the Kingspan Stadium, prop Jack McGrath, centre Sam Faddes and lock Sam Carter are all poised to make their competitive debuts.

Having come through the ranks at Sale Sharks and captained the team, scoring the Sharks’ last try at their old Edgeley Park ground and the first try-scorer at their new AJ Bell Stadium, the 27-year-old signed for Ulster last year.

Despite playing for England’s Under-20s, Addison, who qualifies to play for Joe Schmidt’s side through his Fermanagh-born mother, made his debut for Ireland in a 54-7 win against Italy in November 2018.