Ulster signalled their intentions for next season with two major signings yesterday, but they are now bottom of Pool 5 and Sunday’s reverse was their eighth in the last 12 outings.
Ferris, now a media pundit who has previously criticised Ulster’s lack of heart and passion, was particularly scathing in his criticism of the decision to omit former Lions and Ireland colleague Tommy Bowe out of Ulster’s squad, saying that Bowe is still one of “the best try-scorers around”
“Yes he’s coming back from a long-term injury,” said Ferris, “but to see him not even involved in such a must-win game was pretty mesmerising for me.”
Ferris went on mainly to point the finger at the players for Ulster’s woes rather than the coaching staff, which is also set for a shake-up next season.
“It’s not working out at the minute,” said Ferris, “but Europe is over and in the league, there’s still a lot of points to play for.”
Ulster yesterday confirmed the signing of South African back-row forward Arno Botha and Connacht scrum-half John Cooney. Both come to Ravenhill on two-year deals with Botha due to arrive at the end of the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.
Botha, 25, who can operate either as a flanker or number eight, plays for the Bulls and is a noted ball-carrier. He made his debut for the Springboks in 2013. With his countryman Marcel Coetzee due to make his Ulster debut against Edinburgh in a couple of weeks time, there promises to be more edge to the Ulster back-row.
Kiss said: “Arno was tipped to be a future Springboks captain from a young age but his career was somewhat curtailed by injuries after he made his international debut in 2013. Those injuries are behind him now.
Cooney began his career with Leinster and made his European when Leinster beat Ulster in the 2012 Heineken Cup Final. He moved to Connacht in the 2014-15 season and has played 30 times for the western province.