Former Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris says he can understand why players would be reluctant to join the province at the moment.
Leinster out-halves Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne were offered a move north by the IRFU as they look to help the province replace the axed Paddy Jackson.
Off The Ball understands that both Carbery and Byrne have no interest in a move away from Leinster and are expected to tell the powers that be as much in the coming days.
The IRFU and Leinster Rugby are unlikely to force the issue and as a result Ulster’s search for a replacement for Jackson will continue and will likely extend overseas now.
Ferris says that player's wishes to avoid a move to Ulster is understandable:
“I would love to be able to sit here and tell you that Ulster have a new coach signed sealed and delivered and things are going to be a lot better for next season (I can’t).
“I think that’s the main concern, nobody has a notion what’s going on, all we’re being told is that Jono Gibbs is leaving at the end of the season and they’re doing a coaching review that they’re going to get somebody employed, there’s names being bandied about but nothing is concrete.
“If I was Jordi Murphy or other players wanting to come to Belfast, would I, if I was playing for another club want to come to Belfast and play rugby in Belfast, probably not.
Brian O’Driscoll drew the ire of Ulster fans, pundits and players when he described the province as a basket case during an appearance on Off The Ball AM earlier this week.
Jacob Stockdale labelled the criticism leveled at the province by Ireland's most capped player in history as ‘ridiculous’:
“I think he called us a basket case, which, to be honest, I think is ridiculous. We are competing for the PRO14 play-offs, we are actually in quite a good place and I think he could probably count on his hands how many times he has been up at Ulster Rugby in the last five years so I think the comments are pretty unfair.”
Ferris defended O’Driscoll while speaking to Adrian Barry on Friday’s Off The Ball AM: “For Brian to come out with that opinion is totally fair, however I believe that going forward Ulster are a team that are going to galvanise themselves and get back together on the straight and narrow and try get to the heights they were at 5 or 6 years ago.
“I think people easily forget where Ulster were 5 or 6 years ago and there’s been articles about should they abolish Ulster and blah blah blah, I think that’s complete nonsense.
“I think there are great foundations in place at Ulster but just the last year has been so negative, Jacob Stockdale said he could count on one hand how many times Brian has been to Belfast - well I’m in Belfast every single day and it’s been on everybody’s lips about what’s happened in Ulster rugby over the last 18 months to two years, there has been so much negativity.
"I think even the last 3 weeks the way the lads have played on the pitch got themselves out of a hole, the shackles have been off they're playing some entertaining rugby and beating some good teams.
"For me the last three weeks has brought a lot of positivity and I think going forward that's what the boys have got to do, go out and express themselves on the pitch and forget about all the craziness that's happened over the last couple of years."