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Ferris Signs New Ulster Deal

Ferris Signs New Ulster Deal

Ulster Rugby have confirmed that Ireland and Lions back rower Stephen Ferris has committed his future to the province for a further two years.

Stephen Ferris, who is in the final season of his current deal with Ulster, signed his new contract late on Friday afternoon and will remain an Ulster player until at least June 2013.

Ferris joined Ulster at the start of the 2005/06 season on a development contract. After making his senior debut for the province against the Borders in October 2005, he became a regular in Ulster matchday squads and moved to a full contract ahead of the 2006/07 campaign.

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Having previously represented Ireland Under-21s – he was part of the squad that participated in the U-21 World Championship in Argentina in 2005 – Ferris moved into the Irish senior set-up to win his first cap against the Pacific islanders in November 2006, for the final game at the old Lansdowne Road.

He has since become an important member of the Ireland team and was part of the side that won the Grand Slam last year.

His high level performances for Ulster and Ireland saw him selected for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa last year. He made his Lions debut against the Golden Lions and picked up the man-of-the-match award for his try and all-round effort against the Free State Cheetahs.

He looked certain to win a Test place but was dealt a cruel blow when he suffered a knee injury during a training session in Durban which prematurely ended his tour.

Commenting on decision to stay at Ulster, the 25-year-old said: “It means everything. This is home, I was born and raised here, Ulster is the team I’ve always followed and I have a huge desire to achieve something big with the team. I don’t want to leave Ulster without winning something.”

And the fact that there is plenty of competitive for him among the back rowers at Ulster was a draw to stay rather than pursue options elsewhere.

“I’m competing against top quality players every single week for my place in the team, I’ve got to be training really hard and absolutely on top of my game to ensure I’m selected.

“That challenge keeps me hungry and makes sure that I am working to be the best player I can be.”

Ferris also credited Ulster Rugby’s operations director David Humphreys as being a factor in his decision to commit to Ulster for another two years.

“In many ways, David has made it very easy to stay. He has a vision for Ulster that I’ve bought into and he’s recruited well and built a squad that I’m delighted to remain a part of.”

Retaining Ferris as part of the province’s squad is a major coup for Ulster Rugby who were just one of a number of sides competing for his signature.

The fact that one of Ireland’s most prodigious talents is keen to stay at Ravenhill is a reflection of Ulster’s ambition.

“Every season is a fresh start to an extent, but this season is different,” added Ferris, who has 20 Ireland caps to his name.

“There is a definite sense that this is the start of something special. There’s a buzz around the squad and the organisation as a whole, not just amongst the players and staff but amongst our supporters.

“Our young squad of players is growing up together and when you throw in the big names that have signed over the summer, I’m very optimistic that we will live up to our potential and excited that I’m going to be a part of it.”

Giving his thoughts, David Humphreys commented: “A huge amount has been written about our recruitment of overseas players over the past few months but the retention of Stephen for a further two years is an enormous boost for Ulster and Irish rugby.

“Ulster’s long term success will be built upon Ulster-born players and despite interest from throughout Europe, Stephen’s decision to re-sign with the province is a very clear indication that he believes we are moving in the right direction.”