Stephen Ferris signs 6-month contract extension with Ireland and Ulster

The flanker will hope to prove his fitness to win an improved deal by the end of the year.

Stephen Ferris is staying on at Ulster.
Stephen Ferris is staying on at Ulster.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

STEPHEN FERRIS HAS signed a six-month contract extension with Ulster and Ireland that will see him remain at Ravenhill until at least the end of 2013.

The blindside flanker, who endured an injury-blighted 2012/13 season, had been contacted by teams in Japan’s Top League about playing in the Far East for two years. However, Ferris has opted to remain at his home province in an effort to get back to his best.

The short-term contract will enable the 27 year-old to undergo rehabilitation with the medical and strength and conditioning staff at the club with the aim of making a full and complete return to rugby. Ferris suffered an ankle injury playing against Edinburgh in the Pro12 in November last year and hasn’t played since.

Following consultation with medical experts in Belfast, Dublin and London, Ferris underwent a third ankle operation in May. The flanker, who toured with the Lions to South Africa in 2009, is expected to miss at least the first four months of the new season. Speaking about his new deal with Ulster, Ferris said, “I am delighted that I can continue my recovery and rehab from injury within the Ulster set-up.

I believe that working with the medical team at Ulster, along with the excellent strength and conditioning coaches, offers me the best chance of regaining full fitness and of representing Ulster and Ireland again.”

Ferris put in a number exemplary performances for Ireland at the 2011 World Cup and gained notoriety for plucking Australia scrumhalf Will Genia from the Eden Park pitch, in Ireland’s 15-6 win, and taking him for a walk towards the green and gold’s tryline. Lions coach Warren Gatland has lamented the flanker’s injury problems as a fit Ferris would have been a great benefit to the 2013 squad Down Under.

Ferris takes Will Genia for a walk in Auckland. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

Ulster’s director of rugby, David Humphreys, said, “Stephen has had a difficult year with the injuries that he has suffered, but when he is fit, there is no doubt that he is one of the best back-row forwards in the game.

“He is passionate about playing for Ulster and Ireland and our aim in giving him this contract extension is to provide him with the best possible care to enable him to get back playing.”

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Patrick McCarry

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