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Bernard Jackman: Steven Kitshoff departure could work out for Ulster

Bernard Jackman believes Steven Kitshoff's potential Ulster departure may not be as damaging to the province as initially feared.

The 32-year-old is reportedly in line to leave the province at the end of the season, just one year into a three-year contract.

Kitshoff, who joined Ulster after winning his second World Cup title with South Africa in October, is believed to be close to agreeing a return to the Stormers, whom he left to join the Irish side.

The Springbok's on-field performances haven't been in question, with the loosehead prop playing all 12 games for Ulster since his debut against Glasgow in December.

Off the field it's been a turbulent time, however, with the prop reportedly homesick in Belfast, while Ulster have seen head coach Dan McFarland and CEO Jonny Petrie depart in recent weeks.

Additionally, the province are set for a large turnover of players this summer, with out-half Billy Burns among those leaving, as they look to balance the books.

"The rumour about Kitshoff going back to Stormers, it's not surprising, the people who signed him are gone, that's one part of it," Jackman said on the RTÉ Rugby podcast, referencing McFarland and Petrie.

"He [Kitshoff] wasn't originally one of the fellas that they were looking at cutting to get back on balance.

"I still would like to hope that the IRFU could find a little bit of money for Ulster, so that they don't have to be as severe in their cutbacks as they were planning for under Dan.

"The Stormers have a new consortium who have bought them, partly Irish-owned, and he could play with a very strong team, be back living on the Cape. He’s still very much part of the South African scene, so I think it makes sense for him."

What are the options for Ulster if Steven Kitshoff