Ulster coach resigned to exit of flanker Stephen Ferris

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe says he is resigned to Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris leaving the Ravenhill team.

When asked if he believed Ferris would leave Ulster, Anscombe said: "Yeah, most probably at this stage - he is a great loss".

The injury-plagued 27-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Japan, will miss the rest of the season because of an ankle injury.

The forward's Irish Rugby Union contract expires on 30 June.

"I don't know if it is signed or sealed at this stage - that's for Stephen and his support team to make those decisions," added Anscombe.

"We haven't had a lot of him this season because of injury, but he is a world-class player."

Ferris, who has won 35 caps, was selected for the 2009 British and Irish Lions squad but, after making a brilliant early impression in South Africa, suffered a knee injury which ended his tour.

He also missed the 2011 Six Nations campaign and last November's internationals because of injury.

A number of overseas clubs are believed to be interested in signing Ferris, including an unnamed team from Japan.