Friday 23 June 2017

Ferris has 'no regrets' as injury brings career to end

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stephen Ferris is retiring from professional rugby. Picture credit: John Dickson / SPORTSFILE
Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stephen Ferris is retiring from professional rugby. Picture credit: John Dickson / SPORTSFILE

Niall Crozier

Yesterday's announcement that Stephen Ferris' playing days are over merely confirmed what most Ulster and Irish rugby supporters had feared for some time.

This was a case where the oft-quoted convention that 'no news is good news' did not apply.

The news everyone had wanted to hear was that the outstanding blindside flanker had been offered a new contract. The fact that no such deal was forthcoming was ominous and the longer that continued to be the case, the more one sensed it was not going to happen.

Finally, what had looked inevitable finally became reality. At 12.45 yesterday Ulster Rugby issued a notice which opened with the words: "Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions back-row forward Stephen Ferris has today confirmed that he is to retire from rugby."

A short time later, the 28-year-old bared his soul to the media, reliving the highs and lows of an injury-ravaged career and talking about his hopes for the future.

He stressed the importance of knowing that he had given it his best shot, for which reason he could retire happy that he left no stone unturned in his bid to play again following the ankle injury which ultimately was to prove one too many.

"I've had three surgeries on my right ankle. The whole thing is scarred up. I've very limited range in it, I've got feet problems now and I have nerve damage in my toes," said Ferris.

"Hopefully a couple of months' rest and doing absolutely nothing on it means it will settle down.

"At the same time, I've played rugby for the past eight or nine years for Ulster, Ireland, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I wouldn't change anything. I've got no regrets. I just look forward to the future now and supporting the the boys from the stands."

After suffering his career-ending ankle injury, Ferris gave his all in an attempt to return to the game he loves.

"I trained so hard," he said. "It's the hardest I'd ever trained. Everybody thinks rugby is tough; try being injured – it's 10 times harder, you do 10 times more training.

"To be able to go out and play on a Friday night, train all the next week and then go out and play again is the best thing ever. Being out injured and having to do gym session after gym session ... is the worst thing ever."

Asked when he knew his career was over, he replied: "Probably the minute after the surgeon said, 'Look Stevie, I think the best thing for you is to hang up the boots and not play professional rugby'.

"Over the last 18 months I've always had it in the back of my mind that I might have to retire but it didn't really sink in until I was told the best thing for me was to hang the boots up. That's not that long ago."

Irish Independent

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