Ulster resigned to losing Stephen Ferris
April 10, 2013
Stephen Ferris appears to have played his last game for Ulster with his destination as yet unknown © Getty Images
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe expects Ireland international Stephen Ferris to leave the RaboDirect PRO12 side at the end of the current season.
Ferris, who is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and is not expected to play again this season, is out of contract at the end of the season and has reportedly turned down a pay-as-you-play contract from the Irish Rugby Football Union. The 27-year-old flanker, who has made just four league appearances this season and missed the entire Six Nations, has been linked with a move to Japan while a number of other overseas clubs are thought to be interested in signing him.
Although there has been no confirmation of Ferris' destination next season, Anscombe is resigned to being without one of his most-prized assets who now appears to have played his last game for a province he has called home for the last eight years. Asked if he believed Ferris would leave Ulster, Anscombe told the BBC: "Yeah, most probably at this stage - he is a great loss.
"I don't know if it is signed or sealed at this stage - that's for Stephen and his support team to make those decisions. We haven't had a lot of him this season because of injury, but he is a world-class player."
Ferris has been plagued by injuries since rising to prominence during the 2008-09 season and earning a place on the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa only for a knee injury to bring a premature end to his contribution. He would also miss the 2011 Six Nations campaign and the most recent November internationals because of knee and ankle injuries respectively.
In better news for PRO12 title-chasing Ulster, international winger Tommy Bowe is in line to make his first start since he suffered knee ligament damage against Northampton in December. Bowe was a second half replacement during Ulster's Heineken Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Saracens last weekend and is in contention for Friday night's game against Dragons.
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