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Six Nations: Gutted Ferris ruled out of Italy battle

Stephen Ferris does not expect to be fit to face Italy in Rome next Saturday.

Last night the Ulster, Irish and Lions blindside all but ruled himself out of the RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Italy.

“I'm pretty doubtful,” he said.

Ferris did not even make it to the Irish training camp in Limerick on Monday. He and Andrew Trimble — who like himself was injured in Ulster’s 43-6 Heineken Cup rout of Aironi in Viadana two days earlier — were told by Ireland’s doctors to report to a Dublin clinic for tests en route to Munster.

Both underwent scans, the results of which saw them ordered home for treatment.

“I know my own body and I know how long it takes for something like that to heal so I reckon it's probably going to be a bit longer than the two weeks suggested,” Ferris admitted.

“I'm getting treatment and I'll just have to take it day by day.”

Tellingly he added; “Hopefully I'll catch some of the Six Nations,” the implication being that he will miss the early stages.

Trimble, who was ruled out of the Italy match as soon as the results of the scan of his injured left hand were known, also revealed that he may not be fit to face France in Dublin on Sunday week.

“Originally I was told four or five weeks. Then it was three to four. I don't know what happened, but then it came down to two or three,” said Trimble.

“I'm not going to make Italy and I don't know what's going to happen after that.

“The French game is a possibility, but it's not that likely. I’m going on what it feels like to me and it has got better this week already.

“Certainly in the past six days there has been a big improvement, but I don’t know if it will have come on enough for me to be able to face France. It’s just a case of wait and see, but I’m up against it.”

The news on hooker Rory Best was better. He trained yesterday after missing Thursday's sessions in Limerick through sickness.

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South Africa internationals Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have been cleared to play on after a judicial hearing found they were not to blame for returning positive drug tests.

Ralepelle and Basson were charged and provisionally suspended after they tested positive for the banned stimulant Methylhexamine (MHA) following South Africa's Test against Ireland on November 6.

During the hearing in Cape Town it was confirmed that MHA was contained in supplements provided to the Springboks team in the warm-up before the game in Dublin.

Ralepelle and Basson were just the unfortunate players to be tested after South Africa's 23-21 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

The three-man disciplinary panel exonerated both players of any wrongdoing and admonished the South African Rugby Union (SARU) for not having the supplements tested more comprehensively.

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