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'It would be a massive loss for us if Ferris leaves' - Ruan Pienaar

The Ulster and Ireland flanker has been linked to a move to Japan in recent weeks.

Stephen Ferris salutes the Ulster fans.
Stephen Ferris salutes the Ulster fans.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

ULSTER SCRUMHALF RUAN PIENAAR has expressed his hopes that flanker Stephen Ferris will remain with the province.

Ferris, who will miss the remainder of the season after coming through surgery on an injured ankle, was linked with a one-year deal to an unnamed club in Japan’s Top League.

Andrew Trimble signed a contract extension with Ulster last month but his provincial, and Ireland, teammate has yet to sign a new deal with the IRFU.

Pienaar told TheScore.ie, “He’s a legend of Ulster Rugby, in Northern Ireland and across all of Ireland.

If he decides to leave, it would be a massive loss for us. It’s a professional sport, though, and things like that happen.

“All the players will have to get together and we’ll have to see if he can stay a bit longer.”

Iain Henderson has excelled at blindside flanker, as well as the Ulster second row, in Ferris’ absence. The forward echoed Pienaar’s sentiments about Ferris’ importance to the future succes of the province.

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“He’s been in the injured players gym so we’ve been in two different groups,” he commented. “I haven’t actually been speaking to him a massive amount but I haven’t heard much chat about it.

Asked if he had spotted any Japanese phrase-books lying around the Ulster gym, Henderson remarked, “No, there have been no practical jokes just yet.”

*TheScore.ie will be liveblogging Saracens v Ulster at Twickenham from 6pm on Saturday

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