...Stephen Ferris: ready to make the senior step-up...
Sunday will mark Stephen Ferris' one and only appearance for Ireland at the old Lansdowne Road stadium and the powerfully-built back rower is determined to make the most of it.
STEPHEN FERRIS (Dungannon/Ulster):
Born: August 2, 1985
Height: 193cm/6ft 4in
Weight: 110kg/17st 4lbs
Ulster Caps: 28; Points: 5 (1 Try)
Ireland Caps: 0; Points: 0
- The Maghaberry youngster graduated from the Ulster Academy to win a development contract with the province at the start of the 2005/06 season. Won a full contract after impressing coach Mark McCall last season. Ferris has played 28 times for Ulster, including in all ten of their competitive games this term.
- Educated at Friends' School Lisburn, Ferris played for Ireland at the 2004 IRB Under-19 World Cup and the 2005 IRB Under-21 World Cup, and was part of the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland's rugby squad.
- He scored five tries in five appearances at the 2005 U-21 World Cup in Argentina. Ferris, who can play all three positions in the back row, has scored once (against the Borders last May) in 22 Magners League games, while he is yet to break his try-scoring duck in the Heineken Cup.
- His performances during his debut season for Ulster saw him collect the 2005/06 Guinness/Ulster Rugby Young Player of the Year award. He was voted Youth Player of the Year in 2003 whilst playing for Portadown.
- He missed out on playing at last summer's IRB Under-21 World Cup and possibly winning an Ireland 'A' cap during the Churchill Cup as he underwent a small operation to clear up some ankle damage. He made his Ireland 'A' debut last week against Australia 'A' in Limerick.
...Ferris is the second Ulster player to make his Ireland debut this month, after out-half Paddy Wallace...
- ON HIS SPORTING HERO -
"I loved George Best, he's a legend, I followed Man United from no age and I still do. I was actually away when he was buried and watched it on TV."
- ON HIS PROMOTION TO THE IRISH SQUAD -
"It has happened quite quickly. Six months to a year ago I started playing well and started getting regular starts in the Ulster side. I matured a good bit more.
"I knew I was playing well but to get the call-up to the Irish squad four weeks ago (for the training camp) was a wee bit of a shock. But I came in and settled in, and it has all been good.'
- ON HIS IRELAND DEBUT -
"I'm really looking forward to putting on that jersey. I put on the 'A' jersey for the first time last week and it built up a bit of emotion. Putting on the senior jersey for the first time will definitely be a good thing for me.
"I've never actually played at Lansdowne before, so this will be my first time walking out there - and I'll be wearing a senior Irish jersey.
"Even though I never played there, my first memory of Lansdowne was a school trip (in 1998) when I was 12 or 13 years of age. Ireland were playing Georgia and we won something like 70 or 80 nil.
"We were playing with them under the posts. It was a really good memory and I'm looking forward to getting out there."
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