Contracts and player negotiations have been hot topics in recent times with Simon Zebo opting to head to France at the end of his contract this summer.

Recently, matters have arrived at the doorstep of Ulster Rugby with the revelation that Iain Henderson has several offers from overseas clubs. However the Ulster and Ireland lock only commented that he was merely ‘weighing up his options.’

It is rumoured that Henderson will be offered a lucrative central contract in the near future as Joe Schmidt sees the 25-year-old as a valuable part of his plans for Rugby World Cup 2019. If he continues improving in the manner he has since the start of the season, he will be well worth the contract.

Twelve Ulster players, including Henderson, will be out of contract at the end of the season; Rodney Ah You, Rory Best, Callum Black, Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy, Rob Herring, Luke Marshall, Jared Payne, Charles Piutau and Kieran Treadwell. I was not able to find any contract information on Robbie Diack, Paul Marshall, Peter Nelson and Andrew Trimble. It has already been confirmed that Piutau is leaving for Bristol when the season concludes.

Rory Best, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne are on IRFU central contracts, however it is unlikely that Bowe will be offered an extension. Despite being 35-years-old, Rory Best expressed an interest in playing beyond this season at the beginning of September and, since he is Ireland captain, is likely to receive an extension to his central contract. Similarly, Jared Payne is a Joe Schmidt favourite and would almost certainly be playing at outside centre in the Autumn Internationals where he not injured.

Rodney Ah You who has picked up an injury and is out for six weeks, arrived from Connacht last summer but has failed to secure a first team spot likewise with Callum Black. Fan favourite, Darren Cave has slipped down the pecking order as Luke Marshall is Ulster’s current preferred option at 13, however they have plenty to offer on the pitch. Ulster will be desperate to hold on to Rob Herring and Kieran Treadwell as both have cemented their place in Ulster’s starting lineup in recent months.

It’s approaching contract season and I expect a large majority of these players to be offered new deals in the near future.

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