Ferris feeling fine

Stephen Ferris says he is well on his way to full fitness as the new season approaches. [more]

Ferris feeling fine

Stephen Ferris says he is well on his way to full fitness as the new season approaches.

Ferris, who had his first Lions tour ended prematurely through injury three years ago, has been battling a number of problems over the past few months.

The Irish flanker missed his country’s summer tour of New Zealand as he looked to recover from a calf injury.

Ferris also had surgery to correct an issue with his thumb, while a summer of re-couperation has also had benefits for his long-standing knee problems that date as far back as the 2007 World Cup.

Ireland’s player management program means the 27-year-old isn’t likely to feature in Ulster’s first two RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures even if he is fit but he insists he’ll be ready to go when Munster head to Ravenhill on September 14.

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"All my injuries are good now and they're not a problem," said Ferris, who was pressing hard for a Lions Test spot before injury robbed him of that chance in South Africa.

"I'm feeling good and I've had my first bit of contact with a few live mauls.

"I had two weeks off and then rehabbed my calf, then I came back after another two weeks and there wasn't a problem with that at all.

"Then I got my thumb operated on, so that's not going to give me any hassle this season, that's fixed now.

"As for my knees, I'm really, really strong in that area and getting to somewhere where I was before the knee injury."

Ferris has long been one of Ulster’s star men, regularly producing heroic performances on the big stage.

A similarly successful season this time around would leave him in great shape for a second successive Lions tour but he insists new club coach Mark Anscombe won’t be allowing him or any of his big-name colleagues like Tommy Bowe or Rory Best to take anything for granted in terms of domestic rugby.

"Mark doesn’t care if you’re a Lion or an Academy player; if you play well and put your hand up for selection, he’s going to pick you," added Ferris.

“It’s all about enthusiasm in training and obviously training really well. He laid down a marker and said guys will get an opportunity to play if they’re training well — and make sure you’re ready because I’ll bloody well pick you.

“So all the guys are tuned in. Last year we played the same team week-in, week-out and then there was the odd game when there were 20 changes to the squad.

"The addition of the likes of Tommy (Bowe) and Roger Wilson has added a bit of extra excitement to the pre-season. Mark has his own coaching ways and everyone has bought into what he is trying to do."

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