TOM CROFT will readily seek out the hand of Stephen Ferris this Saturday. Although only called up to the Lions tour of 2009 after Alan Quinlan's eye-gouging ban, it was the tour-ending injury to Ferris that allowed Croft to stamp his authority on that South African series, propelling him to the forefront of the world game.
"On one leg?" the 26-year-old smiles when asked to assess the merits of a rival infamously stripped of the majority of cartilage in one knee. "He is a world-class player. If he hadn't have got injured on the Lions tour I potentially would not have got my chance.
"In terms of not having a knee it doesn't seem to be stopping him. He is leading the way in that Irish side."
Croft has experienced Ferris at close hand already this season -- and was slapped around like a rag doll at Ravenhill when his Leicester side's Heineken Cup hopes splintered into dust.
He hopes to reverse the tide this weekend in the side's Six Nations clash.
"Obviously there are attacking aspects to work on but in terms of our defence, Ireland are the top try-scorers in the tournament so they pose a big threat to us.
"Everyone's fully aware of what happened in Ireland last year. We know the threat and we'll be fully aware of it."