ULSTER HAVE HANDED Stephen Ferris a new ‘short-term’ deal as he continues to fight his way back from an injury sustained in November 2012.
The Irish international flanker has been greatly missed by country and province as an ongoing ankle problem has kept him on the sidelines, but Ulster are clearly hopeful that Ferris can recover. The vague “short-term” nature of the deal points to the fact that a full return to fitness is still in doubt.
However, Director of Rugby David Humphreys says the province are happy with his progress.
“Stephen has shown remarkable drive and determination over the past year as he has worked to overcome the injury that has kept him out for so long.
We are committed to helping him in every way possible and his new contract extension will mean that he will continue to have the best medical, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning teams around him, to help his recovery.”
Meanwhile, tighthead prop Declan Fitzpatrick has signed a two-year Irish contract that will keep him with Ulster until June 2016 at least. With John Afoa set for a move away from the province at the end of the season, Fitzpatrick’s importance is likely to grow in the north.
The 3o-year-old has been capped seven times for Ireland and performed well off the bench during the November Tests against Samoa and New Zealand. Fitzpatrick made his Ulster debut in 2006 and has gone on to make 83 appearances for the province.
“I am delighted to be staying at Ulster for a further two years,” said the prop. “Both my family and I love living in Belfast so it is great to have our long-term future sorted out. I hope to make a significant contribution in the coming seasons and my aim next year is to nail down a starting place.”
Humphreys was satisfied to seal the deal with Fitzpatrick ahead of the departure of Afoa.
Declan is a hugely important member of our squad and has proved at both Provincial and International level that he is a top performer.
“His opportunities have been restricted in recent seasons due to injury, so it is great to see him fully fit and playing some of the best rugby of his career. I am pleased that he has committed to Ulster for a further two years.”
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