Ferris fancied for Lions place

Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris has been backed to star for the Lions in South Africa this summer. [more]

Ferris fancied for Lions place

Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris has been backed to star for the Lions in South Africa this summer.

Ulsterman Ferris has impressed in his country’s opening Six Nations victories over France and Italy and is now preparing for England’s visit to Croke Park this Saturday.

And Newport Gwent Dragons coach Paul Turner, whose side faced an Ulster XV minus Ferris last weekend, insists there is currently no better blindside flanker in British and Irish rugby than the 23-year-old.

"Stephen is playing well but he was probably playing even better a year ago when he wasn’t in the Ireland team,” said Turner.

"Most of the coaches in the Magners League have recognised that Stephen is a real talent but he’s been unfortunate with injuries.

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"They have really curtailed his progress over the last four years but thankfully he’s clear of all that now and looks odds on for the Lions.

"All he needs to do is to keep up his form to be on the plane."

Ferris made his Test debut against the Pacific Islands back in 2006 but failed to nail down a spot during Eddie O’Sullivan’s tenure.

He added just four more caps in the following two years but forged his way into new Ireland coach Declan Kidney’s plans last autumn and has been rewarded for his recent performances.

Ferris has been a revelation in the Irish back-row and adapted well to international rugby alongside fellow Lions contenders David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.

The rising star was in fine form on his Six Nations debut in the 30-21 win over the French in Dublin before producing another outstanding display against Italy last Sunday.

"Ferris has got everything in his game,” added Turner.

"He is a big man with great tonnage and a good defender. He’s a great ball carrier and gets over the gain-line with ease.

"There’s huge competition for places. Wales captain Ryan Jones was outstanding against England last weekend and must maintain his form but is better at No8.

"Joe Worsley is a natural six while Scottish pair Jason White and Alasdair Strokosch will also have a say."

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