THE joy of a new deal has been followed by the despair of injury for Worcester Warriors hooker Niall Annett.

The Irishman’s impressive performances in the blue and gold have earned him a two-year contract extension.

But Annett who has struggled with injuries in the past now faces up to six weeks on the sidelines after damaging his shoulder.

Annett suffered the blow in the first half of Warriors’ European Challenge Cup defeat at Dragons last Friday.

But having feared the worst director of rugby Alan Solomons said he was relieved the 28-year-old did not have to undergo surgery.

“It’s not too bad,” Solomons said.

“He has been scanned and it’s a grade one tear of the rotator cuff.

“Obviously it was a little bit painful at the time and there is a bit of fluid, but it is a four to six week injury.

“It’s nothing major.

“He felt he couldn’t lift his shoulder on the weekend so it is a relief that it doesn’t require surgery which would keep him out for a lengthy period.

“From what we are gather if it is a grade one it will be sooner rather than later that he will return to play.”

Annett is no stranger to injury frustration having missed the entire 2017-18 campaign after tearing his anterior cruciate knee ligament.

A shoulder issue then interrupted the 2018-19 season before coming back and playing a prominent role in Warriors securing their Premiership status.

Annett has started in Warriors’ opening five league games, captaining the side to their victory over Sale Sharks earlier this month.

And the 28-year-old who joined Worcester from Ulster in 2014 has now been rewarded with a contract that will extend his stay at Sixways to eight years.

“That’s great news for us,” Solomons said.

“At the back end of last season and from the inception of this season he has done really well.

“He is a good technician. He throws in well at the lineout and is good at scrum time so his set-piece is very strong.

“He is a very intelligent guy, has got good skills, a fantastic work-rate and leadership qualities as he has led the side on a number of occasions and successful so.

“He has been at the club for some time now and become an integral part of it.”

Annett’s injury is a blow to Warriors but with Matt Moulds returning to full fitness Solomons says he is “fortunate” to have plenty of options to fill the number two shirt.

“Isaac (Miller) did well when he came on (at Dragons),” said Solomons.

“His work-rate was incredible and we won all the lineouts so he did well.

“He is a good young player and so is Beck Cutting who had a terrific game for the Cavaliers on Monday night.

“Joe (Taufete’e) is an outstanding player and had a really good World Cup. Mouldsy is also back as he is over the knock that he took so we are fortunate there.

“As a precaution we didn’t play Mouldsy last week as he had a dead leg.

“It was on the same leg where we had the clean out of the knee, so it was felt prudent not to play him.

“He’s a good man and has got good leadership qualities.”