Rory Best: Ireland skipper out for six weeks with ankle injury
Ulster captain Rory Best hopes to play again this season despite the ankle injury sustained in the Champions Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster.
Best, who will lead Ireland at the World Cup in the autumn, estimates he will be ruled out for up to six weeks.
"I would hope to play some part in the end of season for Ulster, which will be a big goal now," Best said.
Ulster sit second in Conference B with Pro14 play-off games fixed for 3/4 May. The final is in Celtic Park on 25 May.
The hooker sustained the injury early in Saturday's 21-18 European Champions Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster in Dublin.
Best, 36, was clearly emotional as he hobbled off after 16 minutes, before reappearing at full-time wearing a protective boot and using crutches.
"There is no structural damage, just little bit of a wrenching of the ligaments really," revealed Best.
"They (Ulster's medical team) have given this magical figure of six weeks but are not really sure because a lot of it will depend on, when I come out of the boot, how I weight bare, how I run and if the swelling comes out quickly.
"I still hope there will be rugby left for me this season with Ulster."
The Ireland skipper is set to retire from the international game after this year's World Cup, with a decision yet to be made about his playing future with Ulster beyond this campaign.
Dan McFarland's side face back-to-back away games against Glasgow and Edinburgh before hosting Leinster in Belfast needing potentially two more wins to secure knockout rugby and give Best a chance of more game-time this season.
"Obviously that will depend on the next three games," Best stated.