Ferris' global appeal a worry for Ulster
THE IRFU have a fight on their hands if they are to hold on to Stephen Ferris, who is attracting global interest for his services next season, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.
Reports that the Ulster, Ireland and Lions flanker is on the verge of a a move to Japan next season are premature, but it has emerged that a number of Super Rugby and Top 14 clubs have approached the player with a view to a move.
Ferris has missed much of this season with injury and required surgery on his ankle last month. He had hoped to feature during the Six Nations, but the latest set-back cast doubt on his long-term future.
Talks between the IRFU and his representatives were put on hold until after the player got news that the operation was a success and was given the confirmation that his injuries are not career-threatening.
He is believed to be open to the idea of moving abroad if a deal cannot be arranged with the IRFU, but is known to be appreciative of the union's backing during his series of injuries. His future will be determined in the next number of weeks.
One player who looks likely to remain at Ravenhill next season is Andrew Trimble, who is close to committing his future to Ulster and Ireland with a two-year deal.
The 28-year-old winger has had a fine season for the northern province, but has struggled to regain his place in the Ireland team after being dropped after the defeat to South Africa last November.
He was picked in the Wolfhounds team that lost to England last month but despite being recalled to the squad he has been unable to win his 50th cap.
However, his importance to Mark Anscombe's Ulster is unquestionable and he has held off the claims of Craig Gilroy for a starting spot in the big games this season and scored important tries.
Having nailed down the future of their winger, Ulster will be praying the union can work out a deal with Ferris, who has been their talisman in recent seasons.