ULSTER, IRELAND AND The Lions’ brilliant blindside, Stephen Ferris, has today confirmed his retirement from rugby.
The 28-year-old flanker has endured a torrid final 18 months of his career, spending the vast majority of it recovering from an ankle injury sustained prior to the 2012 November internationals.
The 35-times capped Ireland international returned for four appearances for his home province this year, but his final appearance came in the Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Saracens at Ravenhill.
“I have shared a pitch with so many talented players over the past nine years,” Ferris said in a statement released today.
“I want to thank my team-mates at Ulster and Ireland for the support that they have given me. I also want to thank the IRFU as well as the strength and conditioning coaches and medical team at Ulster Rugby, for all their hard work, patience and backing over the past year and a half.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family – my mum Linda and my dad Robert who helped me on the journey from playing rugby as a young kid at Portadown to lining out for the British and Irish Lions. My girlfriend Laura has been and remains a constant source of inspiration and encouragement.
“I have had a great career, met many wonderful people and I hang up the boots with no regrets.”
Ulster Director of Rugby David Humphreys praised the powerful number six as an ‘exceptional talent’:
“We knew from the day and hour that he walked into the Academy that he was an exceptional talent. Through dedication and hard work he developed into one of the best forwards in the world game.
“He has always played an important leadership role within the squad and he helped mentor and inspire others.
“While we are sorry to be losing Stephen, we recognise and celebrate the exceptional rugby career that he has had and wish him every success in the future.”