How far would you go to have Stephen Ferris as your housemate in Belfast?
Local rugby fans were stunned when a hunt for a new pad left them face to face with a sporting legend.
With a room in a plush apartment in Belfast city centre seemingly up for grabs, three would-be renters booked in for a viewing at the Obel Tower.
But with a few quirky requests thrown in, the candidates unwittingly putting themselves in the hot seat to receive a host of Rugby World Cup goodies.
The prank, which was all captured on camera, began with a post on PropertyNews.com calling for a rugby mad flatmate to share the bills.
Potential renters were shown round the luxury home supplied by Templeton Robinson, where the Rugby World Cup trophy took pride of place in the living room.
And if that was not unusual enough, Ireland international Stephen Ferris turned out to be the mystery housemate.
Potential renter Tony Hutchings (23) thought the chance to see round one of Belfast’s most exclusive properties was too good to miss.
He said: “When I saw the Rugby World Cup sitting there, I thought this is definitely not right.
“Stephen met me in the living room and I recognised his face instantly. Once everything got going I thought ‘That’s Stephen Ferris!’
“Then everyone piled in and I put two and two together.
“I was all in for renting the apartment, but this is spectacular!”
The infamous Webb Ellis cup can only be touched by the winners of the sporting competition, so when a Heineken rep posing as an estate agent asked home-hunting Simon Fitzgerald to take her picture with the trophy, he knew something was amiss. ‘
He said: “I was expecting her to knock it over and Stephen Ferris to run in and throw me out the window.”
Instead, Simon was surprised by representatives from Heineken, the tournament’s official sponsor.
The cameras also captured Matthew Grey getting into a push-up competition with the man who made a career out of keeping fit.
The 27-year-old said: “I started to get suspicious when I had to do a scrum on the living room floor. I didn’t expect there to be any physical element.
“I never thought I’d be in a scrum with an Ireland international. I was doing push-ups too. I think I won the push-ups to be fair but the scrum was 50/50.”
The applicants all left with tickets to an Ulster game of their choice, and exclusive invitations to VIP events taking place throughout the Rugby World Cup.
And while Stephen was not to become their roomie, he was more than happy to help kick start these fan’s Rugby World Cup celebrations.
The sportsman said: “You could tell they were thinking ‘What’s going on? I’m sitting on a green settee with the Webb Ellis in front of me!’
“I threw a few questions out to them and they were laughing, thinking it was a mick-take.”
Jim Geraghty from Heineken said they leapt at the opportunity to show off the Webb Ellis with a stunt that would get people engaging with the event.
He explained: “Some of the reactions we had were fantastic. They pushed themselves, and it all really tied in with Heineken’s idea of getting outside their comfort zone and crossing borders.
“Stephen is an absolute Irish rugby legend. He typifies all the traits we want to align with our brand. He was the best in his class, not only for Ulster, but also for Ireland.”
Jim also mentioned that there would be a number of events happening in pubs around Belfast with chances to win world-class experiences including a trip to both Rugby World Cup 2015 semi-finals. This week the Belfast Telegraph gave away 5 pairs of tickets to Heineken’s exclusive Ireland vs Canada event being held tomorrow in the Albany. Fans can find out more by keeping an eye on www.facebook.com/heineken and @Heineken_IE, or by buying a Heineken in their local outlet.