Stephen Ferris was a huge force on the rugby pitch and is larger than life off it. Here are three Ireland players' favourite memories of the Ulsterman
THOUGH Stephen Ferris’s retirement felt like it was inevitable, due to the length of time he’d been kept on the sidelines by injuries in recent years, it was still a blow for rugby when the official announcement was made on Tuesday. A popular player both with his team-mates and the fans, the back-rower won 35 Ireland caps and toured with the 2009 Lions to South Africa before an ankle injury, sustained in November 2012, forced him into retirement. Here three Ireland players, currently in Buenos Aires preparing to play Argentina this weekend, recall their favourite Ferris moments…
“It’s hard to pick out just one memory of Stevie, but his comeback tackle (below) in the game against the Scarlets a few weeks ago is up there. I’d seen him work so hard over the 18 months to get back to fitness, so it was fantastic to see him back on the field. I’ve never seen one player get the reception like he got at Ravenhill that day.
“Stevie will be missed as much off the field as he will on it. He’s a good friend and will remain one, he’s that kind of guy. He’s big, loud and funny, and if he’s in the room you know about it! For the last year I’ve been calling him Van Wilder, because he was injured for so long that he was just organising our team socials. In the new Ravenhill, he decorated our team room. He chose all the furnishings and got the pool table in.”
“Picking up Will Genia, and the ball, and running with him during the 2011 World Cup is my favourite memory of Ferris. I was watching the game back in Belfast. Playing with a guy like him is fantastic, and although we’ve played in the same position, I played alongside him for a bit when he was at 6 and I was No 8.
“It’s a huge loss to the game. He’s an awesome guy who contributes a lot to the team camaraderie, a huge team player. A lot of us expected him to retire, and we know how hard he’s been working with the physios, but even so the announcement has made it feel real. It’s sad to see a player of his stature and age retire.”
“He scored a try for the Lions in 2009, in one of the warm up games (against the Cheetahs, below). He picked up the ball in his own 22 and ran the length of the pitch with it. I’d just finished school at that stage and was watching the game back home.
“His general workrate and the way he plays are awesome. Though we don’t play in the same position, most people would aspire to play like that.”
30 Minutes with Jordi Murphy is in the July edition of Rugby World. Click here to see what else is in the magazine this month.