IRELAND flanker Stephen Ferris says it is an awesome feeling to be selected to travel with the British and Irish Lions to South Africa in the summer.
The 23-year-old flanker from Craigavon is the only Ulster representative on the 37-man squad, and will be one of a record 14 Irishmen to travel across the equator for the three Test series.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet; it will probably take a few weeks,” said Ferris. “Everyone back home will be really proud of me and I know that all the Ulster fans will be behind me when I travel down to South Africa. It’s pretty hard to believe, but I’m determined to do everyone proud.
“I’ll go out there and enjoy every minute of the trip. Rugby is a game you are supposed to enjoy, so I will when I go to South Africa, it will be a wonderful experience.”
Ferris added that he could not bear to watch the proceedings on TV.
“I was out on the training ground knocking my guts out in preparation for the game on Friday night. I came in, had a shower, and then went out again to kick the ball around a bit. It was only when Ulster’s fitness coach Jonny Davis yelled over and gave me the thumbs up that I relaxed — well, as much as I could. Then the banter started from the rest of the Ulster boys.
“It’s now just a wonderful feeling. It’s the highest honour in the game, the pinnacle of rugby to be on a Lions tour, an awesome feeling. To get the opportunity to get into the Test side is a great fillip, and I will be trying very hard to do that.
“South Africa are probably one of the best packs around at the present, but that’s what’s so appealing. I love the physical contact aspect of the game, and I will relish the opportunity to that particular challenge.”
Ferris will be starting in Ulster’s final home game this season, when an in-form Cardiff come to Ravenhill for a Magners League clash on Friday night. He is now fully recovered from a hand injury which he sustained early in the Grand Slam shoot-out with Wales. Also back in Matt Williams’ 24-man squad are Ed O’Donoghue and Tom Court.
Ulster squad (vs Cardiff):
Forwards: R Best, B Botha, N Brady, R Caldwell, T Court, R Diack, E O’Donoghue, C Del Fava, S Ferris, C Henry, M McCullough, D Pollock, B Young.
Backs: D Cave, S Danielli, I Humphreys, P Marshall, T Nagusa, N O’Connor, C Schifcofske, A Trimble, P Wallace, I Whitten, I Boss.
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