We caught up with Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions flanker Stephen Ferris
1. How do you think Ulster have done this year?
Very well. A lot of progress has been made from last year and we have set the bench mark for where we want to be in the coming years.
2. How is your injury at the moment, when do you think you will be back?
I’m taking it day by day, week by week. It’s not long post operation and I’m just trying to get myself fit , healthy and maybe catch some rugby before the end of the season.
3. You went with Ireland to the 2007 Rugby World Cup, how did that help you even though you didn’t play?
I learned a lot from it. It was a tough time for Irish rugby and me being so young and having to deal with all the pressure even though I wasn’t playing was hard. Experiences like that have made me more hungry for success.
4. As a youngster playing rugby, what position did you play have you always been a back row player?
Played number 8 the whole way through school but played at 12 for Lisburn at underage level which was interesting to say the least
5. When you were a youngster playing at Ulster did any players help you improve your game to make you the player you are now?
When I stepped into the Ulster squad we had a great team. We won the league that year and it was easy for me to fit in and not look out of place because I was playing in a good side. No individual player helped me but the team of 2005-2006 were the stepping stone to move onwards and upwards
6. Who was your rugby idol growing up?
7. So far what has been your career highlight?
Winning my first cap for Ulster, Ireland and British Lions. The Grand Slam was also hard to beat.
8. The Ireland back row is a one of the most competitive areas in Irelands squad with the likes of yourself, Sean O’Brien, Kevin McLaughlin, Jamie Heaslip and David Wallace. I guess this is good to have as it makes you work harder for your position?
It’s fantastic to have this class of player in your squad. But my goal is to be the best flanker in world rugby for club and country. And I expect the names you mentioned before think exactly like me! When I’m fit Dec kidney will have a few headaches of who to pick but I can assure you I will do everything to get my place back. I’m so competitive and don’t like losing. Especially when it comes to selection.
9. What was the feeling like when you played your first international for Ireland?
It was the last international at the old stadium. Great day, but I was so tired I found it hard to enjoy that night.
10. When your name was called out for the Lions squad? How did you take the news?
I didn’t watch it. It was on in the team room and I was outside kicking a ball around. Jonny Davis, our S&C coach, came out congratulating me and I have never felt a better moment inside when you know you have achieved the pinnacle of rugby.
11. You caused a storm when you played in your lions matches scoring a fantastic solo try but what was your feelings when you got told you were out of the tour as you had a shot with getting a test cap with your performances.
Destroyed. I have never been as physically fit going into a competition or tour than that one. Hours and hours of conditioning and hard work were endured. The reason I played so well is because I was in great condition. All thanks to JD who put in hours of his own time to make sure I would rise to the occasion. Missing out on a test cap makes me want it so much more. Best experience of my life to date and I will do whatever I can to get back in the same physical condition to give myself another opportunity to be a test lion.
12. What is the best stadium you have played in?
AVIVA- facilities are out of this world
13. Are you looking forward to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand? How do you think you guys will do?
To be honest I haven’t thought about it that much. I want to get fit and start playing rugby again. Getting into good physical shape is my first priority. Although I think we have a fantastic squad and a chance if we perform.
14. As you are a physical player who is the toughest player you have played against?
There are a few out there with big hitters in most teams. But BOD is one of the most competitive and physical players I have played with and against
15. What do you hope to gain from your next 5 years playing rugby?
An injury free 5 years would be good
Favourite holiday destination? Egypt
Favourite food? Indian
Favourite movies? Comedy
Hero (who isn’t in rugby)? Eric Cantona
Favourite sport/team (which isn’t in rugby)? Man Utd
What do you do in your spare time when not playing rugby? Golf, XBOX
What do you think of talkingrugbyunion.co.uk? It’s great. Very current and topical.
Finally – if you had a message to say to your fans who have been supporting Ulster week in week out, what would you say to all of them?
Thanks for the support and without you guys we would not be on the pitch. Ulster supporters are the best in the league and the loudest. SUFTUM