STEPHEN FERRIS believes Ulster can become a force in European rugby for the next decade with victory over Leinster this weekend.
“We don’t mind Leinster having the favourites’ tag. They’ve been the top side in Europe for the past number of years and they’re a great side but Ulster have come a long way and we believe we’re getting somewhere near where Leinster are,” the Ulster No6 said.
“And if we beat them at the weekend it will show European rugby that Ulster mean business for the next 10 years in professional rugby. So it’s just about making sure we perform.
“There are two great teams, everybody knows everybody else so well and it should be a good ding-dong.
Ferris has managed to play more rugby this year than he has in the past few campaigns combined but he’s not ready to stop just yet.
“I started my season in July and it’s been a season that feels like it doesn’t want to end,” he said. “On the other hand, you’re playing in finals and you actually don’t want it to end.
“At the World Cup we probably let ourselves down slightly in the quarter-final but we played some great rugby against Australia and hopefully we can build on that, going into a tough tour down in New Zealand.
“There’ll be an Irish winner in the Heineken Cup final, hopefully an Irish winner in the league and that will be great leading into the summer tour.”
He said there is huge motivation within the Ulster camp to win the trophy for outgoing manager Brian McLaughlin.
“Obviously we’d love for him to walk away from the head coach (position) with him on top, that would be massive for him but also for all the players that have been involved for the last five, six, seven years.”