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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
©INPHO/Billy Stickland THAT tackle on Will Genia.
# RWC2011
View from the Frontline: Simon Hick's World Cup dispatches, Part 3
“All international rugby players have won the DNA lottery. Ferris won the lottery, then gambled it all on red.”

THE FAVOURED CLIP on New Zealand television at the moment is of Stephen Ferris muscling Will Genia back 10 yards, a differential in power usually only seen when the bad kid repeats his Leaving Cert a few too many times.

Genia looked upset that such humiliation had befallen him. It was a completely new experience for the number nine, and seeing it happen to their brilliant general at a crucial point in the game must have rocked Australia’s self-belief.

Ferris has captured the imagination of the southern hemisphere pundits who know a superior athlete when they see one.

All international rugby players have won the DNA lottery. Ferris won the lottery, then gambled it all on red.

This is a man who took gold in the javelin at Irish schools level three weeks after he first picked one up and has frightened monsters like Paul O’Connell with the weights he lifts.

This isn’t someone you want coming onto the bench-press machine after you’re done. The pin is going into numbers you can’t count to.

Enforcer

He was always considered a doubt for this World Cup. His knees give him trouble — indeed the left one has no meniscus left, a precarious situation for a professional athlete.

While he is here though, Ireland have a man who can look Schalk Burger and Jerome Kaino in the eye, safe in the knowledge that there’s no battle he can’t win.

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His re-emergence also adds to what Sean O’Brien can provide for the team. The two have rarely played together in green so we haven’t been able to calculate the collective impact.

Individually they are world class, but when together in the back row, the gestalt is devastating. On Saturday, whenever they roamed as one, damage was being inflicted.

Most backrows, besides New Zealand’s, have only one enforcer, one irrepressible lunatic who will run at anything. Ireland now have two.

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