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'You can't rush the human body sometimes' - Kidney on Ferris injury setback

Mid-March is the revised return date for the Ulster flanker.

Ferris last played for Ireland against England in March 2012.
Ferris last played for Ireland against England in March 2012.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE INJURY RUNDOWN at yesterday’s squad announcement for Ireland’s Six Nations opener had some big names but was shorter than it has ever been in the past year.

Last June, at the end of an 11-month season, Declan Kidney felt obliged to rouse Paddy Wallace from a sun holiday in Portugal to square up against Conrad Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.

That tour did not end well for Wallace or Ireland.

Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris and Paul O’Connell all missed that tour and only Ferris stands a chance of a Six Nations return but possibly not until Ireland play France on 9 March.

Kidney commented, “Just to go down through the [injury] list there; Tommy, no. Stephen, outside chance. Luke [Marshall], yes. John Muldoon, hopefully by the end of February will be up and going. Paul, no.

“Dan [Tuohy], we’ve just backed off him – he had a calf injury and came back but it didn’t hold up.”

Oh Ferris, where art thou?

Talk of Ferris in the main part of Kidney’s team announcement was reserved to three words – ‘Stephen, outside chance’ – but Ireland can not hark back to his absence.

The Ulster flanker has not played for Ireland since 17 March last year. He was, after an unfortunate yellow card in the Welsh game, one of Ireland’s best Six Nations performers, blocking a late Lionel Beauxis drop goal attempt to secure a draw against France.

He trained with Ireland in late October but missed the November Series after badly turning his ankle in a Pro12 game after he was, ironically, released by the IRFU to gain match-fitness.

Ulster have been reluctant to set a date on his return and it would seem, now, with good reason.

“Our medics would be in daily touch with each other,” Kidney told TheScore.ie.

“It’s unfortunate that since he’s been allowed to return to training, the ankle hasn’t responded as we would have hoped. I’m sure the medics will get a handle on that and it’ll be another few weeks.” He added:

It was never likely that he was going to be in at the start of the Six Nations; it was always going to be the end of February. All we’re talking about is maybe a week or two’s difference in that.

“That’s why I say there is an outside chance [of a Six Nations call-up] but you can’t rush the human body sometimes, as much as we’re doing it week in, week out.”

Ulster play Treviso at home in the Pro12 on 1 March and if Ferris does not get some game-time, Kidney may be forced to declare ‘no chance’ for a Ferris call-up.

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Patrick McCarry

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