Get fit for France and you're in, says Ireland Coach
"PROVE to me that you're fit and you'll be in against France on Saturday."
That was Declan Kidney's challenge to Ulster blindside, Stephen Ferris, yesterday when he announced his team for this weekend's eagerly awaited RBS 6 Nations Championship clash in Paris.
The Irish coach has left the door open for Ferris by provisionally pencilling in his name and giving him time in which to prove his fitness.
Ferris has until tomorrow to persuade Kidney that he is ready to face the French in what promises to be a bruising battle.
Ulster's 2009 Lion worked out with the Irish squad yesterday morning and appeared to have no problems, prompting speculation that he would be in the team.
But when, in the afternoon, Kidney read out his selection from numbers 15 to five, he stopped when he reached six and said: "We're just leaving it open to see does Stephen Ferris come through a series of fitness tests that he's in the process of doing at the moment."
Should Ferris fail to make it, Kevin McLaughlin, who made his debut against the Italians, will wear the number six once again, with fellow-Leinster man Sean O'Brien providing the back row cover. Ferris has not played since suffering an injury -- later described as bruising to the bone -- while playing for Ulster against Bath on January 23.
At the time it was not thought to be serious, but when it got worse over the weekend he was forced to rest up and avoid putting any weight on the injured leg.
That saw him miss out on the champions' winning start last weekend. And unless Kidney is wholly satisfied that his aggressive flanker is fully fit to return he will be absent for the second of the five Tests, too.
Source: Belfast Telegraph