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Ferris injury rocks Kidney's NZ tour plans

DECLAN Kidney's plans for the upcoming summer tour were thrown into further disarray yesterday after it emerged that Stephen Ferris is likely to miss the trip to the southern hemisphere to take on New Zealand and Australia next month.

Ferris is understood to have broken a cheekbone while training for Ulster, and now requires surgery that will rule him out for six to eight weeks.

Kidney has other backrow options in Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin, Connacht captain John Muldoon and Sean O'Brien, who is set to be available despite breaking a leg in February.

Munster's Denis Leamy should also declare himself fit but has been a long-term absentee, making James Coughlan, who performed well for the southern province in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup, a dark horse for inclusion in the squad.

Other worries for Kidney include Paul O'Connell, who has not played since the final game of the Six Nations and continues to struggle with a groin injury. Leinster wing Luke Fitzgerald is not expected to feature until next season, while Paddy Wallace, who has been sidelined for a month is also facing a fitness race.

Ireland will take on the All Blacks in New Plymouth on June 12 before facing the New Zealand Maoris on June 18 and Australia in Brisbane on June 26. Kidney's side also face the Barbarians in a warm-up game at Thomond Park on June 4.

Elsewhere, Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has added frontrow duo Declan Fitzpatrick and Nigel Brady, winger Tommy Seymour and Fijian Timoci Nagusa to his panel for the final game against Connacht.

McLaughlin said: "We've frustrated our fans this season, now hopefully we can show them what we are made of in the last game."

Meanwhile, Noel Mannion's famous try for Ireland against Wales will be recalled next Saturday night at the Connacht awards ceremony in the Ardilaun House Hotel in Galway when the Ballinasloe man is inducted into Connacht's Hall of Fame.

The 47-year-old will be honoured for a career of 16 Ireland caps from 1988 to 1993 and that unforgettable try at the Arms Park in 1989.