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Six Nations: Kidney relying on experienced Ferris

Declan Kidney yesterday justified his willingness to give Stephen Ferris time to recover from his injury by citing the big flanker’s experience.

Highlighting what the Ulster blindside will bring to this afternoon’s Paris party the wily Irish coach referred to “the experience that he has built up over the last 12 months.”

Ultimately that tilted the balance in Ferris’ favour and edged the unlucky Kevin McLaughlin, who deputised for him against the Italians in last weekend’s series opener, out of the 22.

McLaughlin’s Leinster colleague, Sean O'Brien has been given the seat on the bench.

“It’s not usual to be talking about the younger player being more experienced than an older player but in view of his big match experience he just has that little bit more,” Kidney said. “He’ll bring that with him tomorrow.”

With Ferris not having taken a full part in yesterday morning’s final Irish training session, the coach chuckled when asked if that meant the player was being handled with kid gloves.

“No, we wouldn’t do that,” he smiled. “It’s just prudent when someone comes back in. You want the lads to enjoy their games and it’s always a balance between doing the right amount of training as against over training.

“He’d worked hard on his rehab and for what he was going to get out of today it was better that he rested up for tomorrow.”

Kidney smiled again when asked if the decision to include Ferris amounted to a gamble.

“He’s fine. He’s grand,” the coach said.

“The reason I don’t say he’s 100 per cent is that I don’t know that any of us are ever 100 per cent!

“He’s charging away at training. He wanted to train but we just held him back a little bit. So he’s good.”

Assessing Ferris’s contribution, Kidney was keen to stress the back row as a unit in which the robust Ulsterman packs down in close harmony with his fellow-Lions David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.

“An understanding of one another’s play is a handy thing to have I think,” he added.

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