Stephen Ferris explains how his World Cup romance in 2011 led to Ronan O'Gara bunking with Brian O'Driscoll
Stephen Ferris will long be associated with an astonishing performance against Australia during the 2011 World Cup, but a story from a night out in the lead-up to the historic win makes for humorous reading.
The powerhouse backrower was instrumental in the pool victory over the Wallabies in Eden Park, carrying back play-maker Will Genia back towards his own line one of the enduring moments from an Irish perspective in a campaign that ultimately fell at the quarter-final stage against Wales.
The retired rugby player has also described the build-up to that particular game that saw the squad let their hair down in New Plymouth.
In extracts from his autobiography published in the Sunday Life, Ferris revealed that a romantic excursion forced team-mate Ronan O'Gara out his room, with the Munster man volunteering to bunk in with team captain Brian O'Driscoll.
The story began in New Plymouth with fellow backrower Sean O'Brien and Ferris attempting to entice a group of American girls he had met through a friend back to the team hotel.
"New Plymouth is not the type of place where you can walk out and get a taxi; they are in short supply," he writes. "When Sean and I go to leave, with the American girls for company, we have no luck getting one.
"We have only had a few beers and have our wits about us. We have a massive game against Australia the following week. We eventually flag a taxi and go back to the [hotel].
"I send a text to my room-mate. ‘ROG, I’ve got a girl back. Any chance of you f***ing off?’
"He texts back, ‘No worries mate.’
"He gets his bags and moves out of there pretty quickly. He texts Drico: ‘Big man’s got a girl back, any chance I can bunk in with you?’
"He does the right thing. Next day, I buy him lunch.
It is in stark contrast to his first encounter with O'Gara on the pitch during a Celtic League clash in 2005.
The 20-year-old came off the bench and made big carries as Ulster pushed for a try at the Munster line.
After the out-half made a booming clearance, he caught up with the flanker to give him a piece of his mind.
"Chasing back, grabs me by the scruff of my neck," he writes.
“You’re a f***ing young c***,” he snarls. “You don’t even know anything about rugby. You think you’re the big man but you’re not. You’re a nobody.”
"He pushes me and I push back. I try to square up to him but, in reality, I am quaking, ‘Oh sh*t, this is Ronan O’Gara.’
"That is Ronan, though. He is a different man once he crosses that white line. A real, competitive animal."