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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Flanker Ferris in Ireland call-up
Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris
Ulster's Stephen Ferris has seen his reputation grow
Flanker Stephen Ferris is one of nine Ulster players included in Ireland's 32-man squad to prepare for the autumn international series at Lansdowne Road.

Ferris has been in impressive form for Ulster and has obviously caught the eye of Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan.

Paddy Wallace is named as one of three fly-halves, while Ulster skipper Simon Best returns to the squad after injury.

John Hayes, Malcolm O'Kelly, Frankie Sheahan, John Kelly and Gordon D'Arcy also return following injury.

Ulster's Matt McCullough is one of four locks, with Best joined by his younger brother Rory and namesake Neil.

Bryan Young is again included in the front-row with Andrew Trimble and Isaac Boss amongst the backs.

But the appearance of Ferris in the international arena further boosts an already thriving back-row unit.

The 21-year-old County Armagh-born Ferris, who can play any position in the back-row, is another graduate from the Ulster Academy.

He made his Ulster debut against the Borders in October 2005, before securing a full contract last season.

He started his senior rugby career with Division Three side Portadown before moving to Dungannon.

Stephen Ferris has played himself into what is a very competitive Ulster back-row and has benefited from the game time Cup

Eddie O'Sullivan

Ferris was a member of the Ireland U21 squad that participated in the World Cup in Argentina in 2005, but missed selection for last summer's Churchill Cup as he remained at home for minor ankle surgery.

"As always the squad is selected on form and with the provinces playing so well in the Heineken Cup," said O'Sullivan.

"There were some very tough calls, particularly in the back five of the forwards. There were some great performances from so many players and there are several who were very unlucky not to make the cut.

"Stephen Ferris has played himself into what is a very competitive Ulster back-row and has benefited from the game time in the Magners League and Heineken Cup.

"We felt that it was a good time to bring him up to the next level to have a closer look at him and to see how he has progressed."

Seven players drop out from the 34-man squad announced for the short training spin in September, with Tommy Bowe injured and Peter Bracken, Tom Court, John Fogarty, Alan Quinlan, Mick O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney not required.

However, Leinster's high profile teenager Luke Fitzgerald, son of former Ireland prop Des, is again included in the panel.

Ireland face South Africa on Saturday, 11 November, then tackle Australia the following Sunday before the curtain comes down for international rugby at Lansdowne Road on Sunday, 26 November with the visit of the Pacific Islands.


Ireland squad
Props:
M Horan, J Hayes, S Best, B Young
Hookers: F Sheahan, R Best
Locks: P O'Connell, D O'Callaghan, M O'Kelly, M McCullough
Back-rows: D Wallace, D Leamy, N Best, K Gleeson, J Heaslip, S Easterby, S Ferris
Scrum-halves: P Stringer, I Boss, E Reddan
Fly-halves: R O'Gara, J Staunton, P Wallace
Centres: G D'Arcy, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan
Wings: D Hickie, A Trimble, J Kelly, L Fitzgerald
Full-backs: G Murphy, G Dempsey.

Not considered due to injury: T Bowe, J Flannery, J O'Connor.



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