Ferris targets playing some part in Six Nations
STEPHEN FERRIS has ruled himself out of Ireland's Six Nations opener with Wales, but the Ulster flanker remains on track to return midway through the championship.
The 27-year-old underwent surgery on his ankle before Christmas to repair a tendon injury. He has taken the field just three times this season and has not played international rugby since the St Patrick's Day defeat to England last year.
However, his recovery from the operation is progressing well and, if that continues when he begins to run on the injury next week, Ferris is hoping that he can return to action in the middle of February.
Ulster have Pro12 clashes with Zebre on February 15 and Glasgow on February 22, which is the same weekend as Ireland's third outing against Scotland.
And, given his lengthy absence from the game, the 2009 Lion reckons he will need some provincial game time before jumping into international action.
"It is 10-12 weeks. I'm in week five, so, hopefully, in five, six weeks I'll be back at it," Ferris explained.
"That's the target. If I was fit and ready to go in the middle of the Six Nations, it would be pretty hard to go into an international, but thankfully, there is a week off and then a week on and then another off before the last two games.
"It is week-on-week, we'll see how we're progressing and it is going well so far."
Although he won't be involved, the 35-times capped international believes that Ireland's fate will largely be decided on opening weekend and that February 2 meeting with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
The blindside believes that Ireland have plenty of motivation for their meeting with the reigning Grand Slam champions.
"It is all about that game," he said. "It is all about beating Wales. They hold the trophy, they've won a couple of Grand Slams and are a top team. We owe Wales one. The last few fixtures we've had against them, they've done a good job on us and it's about time we got a bit of payback. We need to get a win to get the series off to a good start."