Fresh hopes Stephen Ferris may stay on with Ulster

Ulster's Stephen Ferris
Ulster's Stephen Ferris
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Stephen Ferris may yet still remain on Irish soil after a decision was taken to undergo another operation on his troublesome right ankle.

The hard-hitting backrow forward was due to go under the knife on Tuesday morning for mostly exploratory surgery on the ankle which has kept him out of playing since last November.

There had been strong rumours linking Ferris with a move away from Ireland after his current contract finishes at the end of June.

The News Letter understands that any potential move as it was rumoured to Japan is unlikely to happen.

However, a move from Ulster can still not be ruled out at this stage.

It is understood negotiations are continuing with the Irish Rugby Football Union and if this latest operation is a success - although he could be in rehab between three to six months - there are fresh hopes a deal can be struck with Ireland, which could keep Ferris at Ravenhill for at least another two seasons.

That would be a huge boost for Ulster and Ferris who has been left frustrated this season by having to sit and watch from the sidelines as Ulster made the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and lost in the RaboDirect PRO12 final.