Sport Rugby

Sunday 23 July 2017

Demolition man Ferris won't curb his aggressive enthusiasm

Ferris: Still learning Photo: Getty Images
Ferris: Still learning Photo: Getty Images
David Kelly

David Kelly

Stephen Ferris meets the press. The press ask Stephen Ferris, "how's the injury?" "Ach, fine," he sparkles. For now.

Living on the edge is freighted with peril for demolition men like Ferris. Destroy or be destroyed. He's already coughed up a Lions series because of his journeys into the dark side.

Last summer, he was already slated to be a star for the Lions in South Africa, the man to beast the beasts, when he cracked his knee in what should have been an unremarkable tackling drill. He just couldn't help himself.

"I tried to empty the guy that time in training and he fell on top of me," he recalls sombrely. "If I'd just smothered the guy up I could have stayed out there and got three Tests under my belt.

"I do get down on myself at times, like on that tour with the Lions, because maybe I didn't have to make that tackle in training when I got injured. Maybe being a wee bit smarter, that kind of experience will hopefully help me in the future but you just have to take it on the chin. If you keep bouncing back, it shows you are a fine player."

It remains a fine line. The hard man is effectively always on trial.

"Exactly, but that's who I am. That's me. I won't leave anything behind. If I make a tackle, I will go at it 100pc. I won't go at it 50 or 60pc. That's exactly what I am going to try and do this weekend."

How to control the caged animal within and yet not dilute the raw aggression could prove a dogged distraction. Except Ferris is unsure that merely adding a modicum of increased intelligence will necessarily curb his naked aggression.

"I don't think so. It comes with experience, being that wee bit cuter and wee bit smarter. I've definitely learned a lot over the last couple of years, especially being away with the Lions and seeing how other players train.

"It's about getting as much out of it as you can. Look at Simon Shaw. He's 37 and I tried to take a bit out of what he does. It's about getting the right balance. I've learned going flat out in training every week will leave you tired come the game."'

Still, don't ask him to hold back tomorrow. He normally makes 20 tackles a game for Ulster. He only made six in Paris. Something's got to give.

Irish Independent

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