Ferris set to miss start of the season
August 1, 2012
Ulster's Stephen Ferris, Tomy Bowe and Rory Best gear up for the new season in the province's new playing kit © Ulster Rugby
Ulster's Stephen Ferris has revealed he is winning his fitness battle but is still set to miss the start of the new season.
The Ireland international has struggled with knee, calf and thumb injuries in recent months but is now nearing full fitness having enjoyed a lengthy break since Ulster's Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster in May.
The 26-year-old missed Ireland's recent tour of New Zealand with a calf complaint and has since undergone surgery to rectify his thumb injury but the province's RaboDirect PRO12 season-opener against Glasgow next month is set to come too soon.
His most recent procedure and the Irish player management programme is set to delay his return to action until the third round of the PRO12 season a game that is also likely to see the season bow of hooker Rory Best who is recovering from a groin problem.
"I'm not sure if I'll make the first game but I should be available for the second or third matches of the new season," Ferris said at the launch of his side's new playing kit at Ravenhill.
"All my injuries are very good," he added. "I have a few aches and pains, all the niggles that disappear when you're on holiday come back again. My calf is not a problem, I had two weeks off and then came back and rehabbed that.
"I got my thumb operated on so that hopefully won't give me any hassle this season. I haven't squatted in nearly 18 months because of my knees but I've been back squatting in the last few weeks and I'm feeling strong and I'm getting back to where I used to be."
New coach Mark Anscombe is running his eye over pre-season for the first time and Ferris has been impressed by the impact he has made. "I met Mark the first or second day he was here. I came in and had a good chat with him and we didn't even talk about rugby the first couple of times we met, I was just getting to know him. I think that's what he's doing with all the lads, just trying to get to know them.
"I think he's doing a great job so far. He's not coming in to change everything and we're not going to be a completely different team to what we were last year. He's just coming in to tweak a few things and give us a bit more coaching."
The new coach has also made it clear that reputation counts for nothing when it comes to team selection for the big games. "Mark doesn't care if you're a (British & Irish) Lion or an Academy player," said Ferris. "If you play well and put your hand up for selection, he's going to pick you. It's all about enthusiasm in training. He laid down a marker and said guys will get an opportunity to play if they're training well so all the guys are tuned in."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery