Ireland hooker Rory Best says he "very optimistic" about his recovery from a neck injury which has ruled him out for the entire season.
The 27-year-old Ulster captain had surgery for a chronic disc injury.
"It's all about if the bone put into my neck to replace the disc takes - hopefully it will and I will come back strongly," said Best.
"At the minute no further surgery is required and I'm very optimistic. But I will take it each month at a time."
He added: "I'm now lifting weights in the gym but I still can't drive.
"My next review is on 14 October and we'll just take it from there.
"It is frustrating watching Ulster but the team is doing a great job at the minute."