Injury-hit Ferris ponders future as he sweats on ankle results
Stephen Ferris is expected to make a decision on his future in the game by the end of this week as Ulster and the IRFU grow increasingly reluctant at the prospect of offering him another short-term deal.
Ulster's Grand Slam-winning star, just 28, has made only four brief appearances for the province since damaging his ankle in November 2012.
He was handed a short-term deal halfway though this season when it seemed likely that he would be able to make a playing comeback, which he did in March against Scarlets.
Ferris had hinted at a move to Japan last summer before securing a short-term IRFU deal but, after the most recent final extension, his employers may be reluctant to repeat the offer.
After appearing briefly in the Heineken Cup defeat to Saracens last month, Ferris suffered another setback which ruled him out of contention for the rest of this season.
Now it appears that Ulster will respectfully afford the luckless back-row enforcer the opportunity to decide for himself if he has what it takes to continue in the game.
Ferris has undergone more tests this week and the results of these will inform his decision. He has made 100 appearances for Ulster and the last of his 35 Ireland caps came in the Six Nations game against England in 2012. Meanwhile, Welsh whistler Nigel Owens will officiate as Leinster aim for back-to-back Pro12 crowns in Saturday week's showpiece RDS final against Glasgow Warriors.
Owens was overlooked for this weekend's Heineken Cup final between Clermont and Saracens but, in his 111th tournament match, he will take charge of his second Pro12 final.
He will be joined at the RDS by assistant referees and fellow Welshmen Leighton Hodges and Ian Davies. Derek Bevan will act as the TMO and citing commissioner will be Italy's Maurizio Vancini.