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Ferris expects Lions heartbreak to fuel O'Driscoll's fire

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Stephen Ferris

Stephen Ferris

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Ferris

Stephen Ferris believes his Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll can use his Lions heartbreak as motivation for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Wales.

O'Driscoll was sensationally axed by head coach Warren Gatland for the series-clinching third Test against Australia last summer and the decision has once again been brought under the spotlight in the build-up to the second round of Six Nations games.

And on the reunion between Ireland's most-capped player and the Kiwi coach, Ferris – who had his own Lions Test dreams crushed when injury ended his 2009 tour of South Africa – said: "It will be talked about between a few players behind closed doors I suppose.

"As he said (at one stage), Gatland is not on his Christmas card list and I'm sure Drico will have something in there that could give him that extra 10pc."

"Gatland has a history of winding up the opposition and that kind of carry on in the media, but we've seen these tactics so many times now.

"Whether it's Brian or Joe (Schmidt, Ireland's coach), or Paul (O'Connell, Ireland's captain), they won't let the build-up get to the players and all that won't have too much of an effect."

Of more concern to the injured flanker, however, is the combination of Gatland's renowned tactical nous and the formidable array of talent at his disposal. The 28-year-old added: "For me, Warren Gatland is one of the best coaches around. He's tried and tested at the highest level and he'll have them coming into this one fully-loaded."

This, according to Ferris, is all the more reason for Ireland to respond with a big performance of their own.

"Against a really good side like this, one tipped to win the championship, a win would be huge," he said. "It's really important to put in a good performance ahead of another big game against a good England side."

Unfortunately, Ferris will once again play no part in this year's edition as the ankle injury picked up in Pro12 game against Edinburgh in November 2012 continues to prevent him from adding to his haul of 35 international caps.

He does remain very much in the thoughts of his international colleagues however, as exemplified by a weekend phone message from O'Connell, who missed the championship-opening win over Scotland.

Ferris revealed: "Paul O'Connell texted me two minutes before kick-off saying that he was sitting their feeling sorry for himself that he couldn't play and then he thought of me."

Mercifully, the explosive blindside has stepped up his rehabilitation in recent weeks and is inching ever closer to a return to the field of play.

"We haven't put a timetable on the recovery the whole way through and that's still the case, but after another four or five weeks on the pitch doing some running and we should have a much better idea of when I'll be able to get back out there."

Fans of Ulster and Ireland – and most importantly the man himself – will be hoping that day comes sooner rather than later.

Irish Independent