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Contract extension for Ferris

IRELAND and Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris has signed a six-month contract extension which will see him remain at Ravenhill until at least the end of 2013.

The short-term contract will enable the 27-year-old to undergo rehabilitation with the medical and strength and conditioning staff at the club, with the aim of making a full return to rugby.

Ferris (pictured) suffered an ankle injury playing against Edinburgh in the Pro12 in November last year and hasn't played since.

Following consultation with medical experts, Ferris underwent a third ankle operation in May. He is expected to miss at least the first four months of the new season.

The flanker has played 102 times for Ulster, has been capped 35 times by Ireland and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

Commenting on the contract extension, Ulster's Director of Rugby, David Humphreys, said: "Stephen has had a difficult year with the injuries he has suffered, but when he is fit, there is no doubt that he is one of the best back-row forwards in the game.

"Stephen is passionate about playing for Ulster and Ireland and our aim in giving him this contract extension is to provide him with the best possible care to enable him to get back playing."

Speaking about his new deal with Ulster, Ferris said: "I am delighted that I can continue my recovery and rehab from injury within the Ulster Rugby set-up."


Melbourne Rebels wing Lachlan Mitchell has received a one-match ban for foul play during Tuesday's game against the British and Irish Lions.

Mitchell was found guilty of lifting Lions wing Simon Zebo in a game the tourists won 35-0.

He was cited under Law 10.4 (j) – lifting a player and dropping that player into the ground while that player's feet are still off the ground, such that the player's upper body comes into contact with the ground.

"I found that the incident was clearly at the lowest level for this offence," said judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

The normal penalty for such an offence is four matches, but Hampton said that because of the circumstances and Mitchell's good record, and due to "the type and a level of offence", a one-match ban was the appropriate punishment.