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Stephen Ferris: We won't live to see another like him, says Tom Court

By Michael Sadlier

Even though there is clear sadness in his voice, the already London-based prop Tom Court is eager to reminisce over spending so many hours training and playing alongside Stephen Ferris.

"We were lucky we saw him and we should be thankful that we were able to enjoy what he brought to the game," the prop who will play for London Irish next season says.

Court chooses to side on the more positive aspect of the retired flanker's career rather than the large amount of time Ferris spent rehabbing a whole host of injuries which eventually caught up with the 28-year-old powerhouse flanker.

"Through about 2008 to 2011 he was rightly rated as one of the best flankers in the game and he had the potential and ability to go down in history as one of the greatest flankers of all time."

And his most stirring memory of the player who he describes as a talisman for all those who played with him, well that's easy.

It came from the night in September 2011 when Ferris's awesome power was unleashed for Ireland on an unsuspecting Australia – and in particular scrum-half Will Genia – in the World Cup pool game.

It was an epic clash which Ireland won to announce themselves in the tournament but the encounter will forever be about Ferris lifting Genia off his feet and carrying him several metres before dumping the Wallaby on the Eden Park turf in Auckland.

Court was on the bench that night and recalls how Ferris's moment inspired the side to push on for the victory.

"I remember we could feel a special vibe in the changing room for that game but when Stevie lifted Genia up the way he did it registered in everyone's mind that we were going to win the game.

"It was an awesome moment," added Court.

"Watching highlights of the way he played between about 2008 and 2011 just makes you realise that he was an absolute animal. You forget how fast and strong he was and people like him come around once in a lifetime.

"He was never a player like Roger (Wilson) or Chris (Henry) in that he was an absolute workhorse, but he had the ability to do things to change a game," Court recalls before addressing what Ferris brought off the field.

"He was a voice of reason and honesty in the squad," he adds while reckoning that Ferris's long battle to get back playing at the end of the season said so much for his work ethic and commitment.

"I was chatting to him last week in the gym and he may have known the writing was on the wall but there he was, still working away.

"He was unbelievable and he always seemed to turn up with a smile on his face and how he did that I don't know. He was a better man than I would have ever been in those circumstances," Court added.

"He was the guy who would make the big hit to inspire us and make us all kick on. But you live by the sword and I'm afraid you die by it too."

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