Reports say Brian McLaughlin will leave Ulster coach job

Ulster are to replace head coach Brian McLaughlin at the end of the season, it has been reported.

It is understood Ravenhill chiefs have decided not to renew McLaughlin's contract and to bring in a new team boss for the 2012/13 season.

A statement from Ulster Rugby said: "The current coaching contracts are set to finish at the end of the season, and are under review."

McLaughlin succeeded Australian Matt Williams in 2009.

The former head of PE at Belfast school RBAI is in his third season as Ulster coach and has guided them to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the last two.

Last season the former Ireland skills coach also steered Ulster to the Pro12 play-offs.

The stunning 41-7 victory over Leicester in mid-January was further evidence of a team in the ascendancy, yet reports now say McLaughlin has been told his contract will not be renewed.

Former Italy and Japan coach John Kirwan has been linked with the position with Ulster directors seeking an injection of fresh blood.

Ulster captain Andy Ward, a former Ulster captain, felt McLaughlin could have been the victim of the way modern professional rugby had become a cut-throat industry.

"He got a one-year extension to his contract last year and perhaps in the back of his mind he knew there was not a lot of longevity there," Ward told BBC Radio Ulster.

"Ulster may be feel Brian is not the guy to take them to the next level where they would like to be.

"It is hard to know what they are looking for. Is it a certain style they want to change?

"Do they feel Brian is not getting 110% from the players because they do have a phenomenal squad with international and World Cup experience at the minute. Perhaps they are not getting as much as they anticipated."