Ulster Rugby were remaining tipped lipped in spite of growing speculation that star player Ruan Pienaar is on the brink of signing for Heineken Cup champions Toulon.
Pienaar is currently on Springbok duty in the Rugby Championship and his deal at Ravenhill expires in 2014.
French newspaper L’Equipe have claimed Pienaar has already signed a two year deal with Toulon and was personally recruited by president Mourad Boudjellal.
L’Equipe’s headline proclaimed ‘Pienaar in Toulon, it’s done’ – however it is understood that no contract has not been signed.
Pienaar was signed by Ulster in May 2010 on two year deal and scored all 19 points on his debut in the Magners League victory over Glasgow.
The scrum half was pivotal in leading Ulster to the Heineken Cup final in 2012 and last season’s Pro 12 final and pen a two year extension to stay at Ravenhill until June 2014.
Pienaar’s international career has been resurrected since his arrival in Belfast and he is first choice scrum half for South Africa and has amassed 150 points in his 70 caps.
The Springbok has played 63 times for Ulster and scored 510 points and was named at scrum half in the Magners League Team of the Year for the 2010/11 season and also scooped the Magners League player of the year award which was voted for by his peers.
Toulon already have a number of South Africans in their ranks including Bakkies Botha, Bryan Habana, Danie Rossouw, Michael Claassens and Joe van Niekerk, they also persuaded flanker Juan Smith out of retirement to sign a one year deal.
The French club are also trying to sign Schalk Burger.
Any deal for Pienaar can’t be announced by Toulon until April under the rules of the French League.
Ulster will be keen to keep Pienaar and he is not the only high profile player in the last year of his deal at Ravenhill.
Skipper Johann Muller penned a one year extension last year which is also up at the end of the season
All Black World Cup winning prop John Afoa’s three year deal ends and he is keen to return home in a bid to reignite his international career.
Ulster’s other overseas player Nick Williams signed from defunct Italian club Aironi in 2012 is also out of contract at the end of the year.
Scrum half Ian Porter and British Lions flanker Stephen Ferris both signed short term contracts which take them up until December.
Loose forward Robbie Diack who was selected for Emerging Ireland to play in the Tbilisi Cup last summer is out of contract in June 2014 as is fellow back rower Chris Henry.
Ulster current long serving player Paddy Wallace is also out of contract next June.
Wallace, currently recovering from injury, made his Ulster debut in 2001 and is closing in on 200 appearance for the province and has scored 439 points and was part of the Irish team that won the historic grand slam in 2009.
Out half James McKinney and David McIlwaine who both returned from England in the close season will also be out of contract after penning one year deals.
Coach Mark Anscombe is in the last year of his two year deal, although it is understood negotiations are already under way about his future.