Sunday 23 October 2016

'It's been a happy hunting ground for us'- Stephen Ferris confident Ireland can undo France in Paris

Tom Rooney

Published 12/02/2016 | 19:24

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014 trophy in Paris in 2014
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014 trophy in Paris in 2014

Former Ireland and Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris believes that the Stade de France is longer the bogie ground it once was for Irish teams, and is confident that Joe Schmidt and co will get the better of the French tomorrow.

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The record books reveal that Ireland have been victorious in Paris just twice since the turn of the century but, following draws in the 2012 and 2013 Championships, they have beaten France on each of the three occasions the sides have met.

Ferris, who won 35 caps for Ireland before an injury enforced retirement in 2014, told that the first of those tied games, which was in Paris, seemed like a turning point.

And, that the current Irish crop will hold zero fear for the heaving cauldron on the outskirts of the French capital, despite what they might tell the press.

“Me and Quinny (Alan Quinlan) have been talking all week about what a graveyard it’s been for Irish rugby over the years. But, over the last four or five seasons, it’s been a happy hunting ground for us. 

“I think the changing of the tide was that 17-17 draw and I was fortunate to play in that game. We were 17-6 up  at half-time and they managed to come back.

“I think the lads will go over there very confident, but they’ve been playing it down a bit in the media this week. Ireland just have to focus on themselves and they can turn them over again in their own backyard.”

The 2009 British and Irish Lion admitted that the new-look French will certainly pose a threat, which is likely to manifest in fits and bursts of individualism.  That said, he reckons Ireland should prevail.

“You just don’t know who’s going to turn up in the French team. They’ve got a lot of individual talent there and if they can click and get it right as a collective, then they’ll be very, very dangerous. But I’m going for an Irish win by a score.”

Ulster Bank Rugby ambassador Stephen Ferris, has been travelling around the country this week with the RBS 6 Nations trophies as part of the annual Ulster Bank Trophy Tour. Ulster Bank recently announced that their longstanding support of rugby in Ireland will continue as they remain the title sponsors of the All-Ireland League until 2018 as well as Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU.

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