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Ferris to see out his contract with Ulster

Ulster are hoping to add Irish Grand Slam stars Paddy Wallace and Tom Court to the nine players who signed new deals with the province yesterday.

And Ulster also celebrated confirmation that Lions flanker Stephen Ferris will be seeing out his contract until the end of next season.

Back-row forward Chris Henry was one of four first-team regulars to extend their contracts by two years, along with hooker Nigel Brady, flanker Willie Faloon and centre Ian Whitten.

"The management team at Ulster are delighted that we have re-signed key home-grown talent to the squad," said operations director David Humphreys. "Our focus is to build on the foundations set and mould a powerful side, consisting mainly of indigenous players with a number of high-profile overseas signings.

"It has been great to see young players coming through the ranks and making their mark. We are close to completing the squad for next season."

Ferris' agent Ryan Constable yesterday rubbished claims in the broadcast media that the Ireland international could be set to switch Irish provinces this summer.

"Stephen is contracted to Ulster until 2011 and neither the club nor player have the inclination to break that contract," insisted Constable. "There is not even an option in the contract and Stephen is very happy here."

Henry (25) has regularly captained the province in the absence of the injured Rory Best and he has won five Ireland A caps.

"I believe the squad has moved a considerable distance over the past 12 months, and has now become a young, vibrant side," he said. "Ulster has become a challenging team, both in the Magners League and Heineken Cup, and will continue to go from strength to strength."

Academy scrum-half Ian Porter, centre/wing Nevin Spence, props Adam Macklin and Paddy McAllister have all signed one-year contracts, as has Belfast Harlequins' Neil McComb.

Irish Independent