Ulster are hopeful John Afoa is staying at Ravenhill

Ulster chiefs are confident that New Zealand World Cup winner John Afoa will be at Ravenhill next season.

The tighthead is contracted to Ulster until June 2014 but has made several trips home this season, most recently for the birth of his third child.

Ulster chief executive Shane Logan confirmed no new players are arriving, which indicates Afoa will be staying.

"All our players are contracted into next season and so, no, we won't be bringing in anybody new," he said.

Ulster are allowed five overseas players who are not qualified to play for Ireland.

Afoa, Nick Williams, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar and Jared Payne are currently in that category, though it is anticipated that Payne will become an Irish international at the start of the 2014-2015 season once he has spent the stipulated three years in the country.

However during a trip back to New Zealand earlier this season, Afoa told a New Zealand TV station he was keen to return home to chase a spot in the All Blacks' World Cup squad in 2015.

When Afoa has been absent or injured this season, Ulster have used Ricky Lutton and Kyle McCall in the tighthead position, but would need to recruit from overseas if Afoa left.

Logan reiterated that no overseas' signings are planned.

"Our policy with our five non-Irish eligible players is to have guys who are both box office on the pitch and off the pitch," he continued.

"But there will be nothing new in terms of players next season.

"We'll be concentrating on having all our guys fit, which, for a third of this season, has been a real struggle for us."

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