Not so long ago it was taken as a given that Stephen Ferris would wear the number six jersey when Ireland played.
Provided he was fit.
But fitness has long been a problem and with the World Cup now less than five weeks away Ferris knows that in his absence, Leinster’s Sean O’Brien has stolen a march. Big time.
When Ferris twisted his left knee in the course of Ulster’s 43-6 Heineken Cup away-day rout of Aironi on January 22, little did he or anyone else know that his season was over. It looked innocuous.
But it wasn’t, for Ferris has not played since.
For the full story, see this week's Sunday Life.