The Six Nations kicks off Saturday and Ireland head to Cardiff to take on Wales in what should be the start of a massive few weeks of sport. Ireland go into the competition as the top ranked team in the world and out-right favourites. All eyes will be on Andy Farrell's men to see if they can live up to that title and build on their Summer and Autumn wins.
With that in mind, Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes sat down with former Ireland and Ulster great Stephen Ferris, to talk about his time in green. He spoke about some of his fondest Six Nations memories and what it was like to play alongside some of Ireland's greatest ever players.
Ferris described playing alongside his childhood hero Brian O'Driscoll being one of his ultimate highlights, and offered us some insight into what it was like to play with his idol.
In his days as Ireland captain O'Driscoll was rarely looked upon as aggressive and harsh but instead was more associated with a skilful brand of rugby and a friendly demeanour. Ferris however, put this perception to bed offering us an insight not many people would've imagined, likening O'Driscoll's captaincy to that of his football counterpart Roy Keane. Ferris even said that in the early days of his career, he was scared of O'Driscoll.
I was probably scared of Brian.
I would say he’s very much out of the Roy Keane book. As soon as he crossed the line he turned into a different animal, the competitive edge that he showed in training, on the pitch, in the gym, in team meetings, in his captains speech, you know, he was very professional in everything that he did.
He might say in the younger days when he was was sporting the bleach blonde hair and he was maybe carrying a few extra kg that might not have been the case, but any time that I played with him, he certainly set the example to young fellas like me.
"It was just elation..."@stephenferris6 on the best moment of his Six Nations career🏉
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— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) February 3, 2023
While O'Driscoll setting an example doesn't come as much of a surprise, he and Keane aren't two people often likened together. Apart from captaining their country who would have thought they'd have much in common. It appears O'Driscoll didn't captain his country to a first Six Nations Grand Slam in sixty years always being the nice guy.
Unsurprisingly Ferris' greatest memory in an Ireland jersey was that 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam decider in the Millennium Stadium against Wales, when Ireland claimed only their second-ever Grand Slam after Stephen Jones's penalty fell short in the last minute. Explaining his greatest rugby memory Ferris said:
The highlight of my Six Nations career would be of course, winning the Grand Slam in 2009.
We all knew it was gonna be a tight game, but the drama at the end of it, Stephen Jones penalty that just dropped beneath the cross bar and Geordan Murphy who came off the bench that day, caught the ball and ran and kicked it into the crowd and it was just elation, and yeah that lives long in my memory.
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