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Ferris: O'Brien remains big threat

Stephen Ferris has warned England that Sean O'Brien is ready to explode back into life when Ireland visit Twickenham on Saturday.

O'Brien, who missed last Saturday's thrashing of Scotland with a skin infection that forced him to spend a week in hospital, has endured a quiet RBS 6 Nations by his own colossal standards but back row partner Ferris believes the reigning European player of the year remains a ferocious operator.

"Sean has shown last year in European and Test rugby that he can run through brick walls and off-load," he said. "He was European player of the year for a reason and that doesn't change overnight."

He added: "Maybe he hasn't got the ball enough or been in the right positions in the last couple of matches to make those breaks that he's known for, but it's definitely still in his locker.

"Hopefully if he gets his hands on the ball a bit more this weekend that you'll see a more destructive Sean O'Brien."

While O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip have been subdued throughout the Six Nations, Ferris has been at his monstrous best, especially in defence.

Long feared for his physicality and brute strength, the 26-year-old has now developed into a more rounded player with a better understanding of the game.

"I'm improving - I feel more confident on the ball these days," the Ulster forward said.

"When you're training with the lads it comes naturally. I'd like to get my hands on the ball more but it's just the way the games have panned out.

"I feel good and am really confident at the moment. I'm improving week-in, week-out. I'm feeling fit and fresh and that's the main thing."

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