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Ireland World Cup squad has scrum-thing for the girls

By Laura McGarrity

He may be preparing for the biggest tournament of his life, but Ulster rugby star Stephen Ferris has left the ladies swooning in a new photoshoot.

Usually covered in muck and drenched in sweat, Ireland's World Cup squad has posed for a series of intimate portraits in somewhat unusual settings.

Ulster forward Ferris (26), appears topless in the shower - confirming him as Ireland rugby's hottest beefcake.

The photo is part of a series released by picture agency Inpho Sports, which teamed up with award-winning photographer Billy Stickland to take portraits of the team ahead of their game in New Zealand next month.

Also featured along with Ferris are fellow Ulster stars Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace, Rory Best and Tom Court.

Court bares his tattooed back in Stickland's collection, while Paddy Wallace demonstrates his skateboarding skills for the camera.

Former Ulster player Isaac Boss shows how he can keep a tennis ball up with his head and Best demonstrates how he practices his rugby prowess at home with some stools and a couple of pillows.

Trimble, meanwhile, is sitting on a stool deep in thought, possibly thinking of tactics ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Ferris, however, could possibly clean up when it comes to attracting the attention of female fans.

... and here's what the girls make of our rugby hero

Director of Sugahfix Katrina Doran

"I have absolutely no knowledge of rugby, but looking at the picture of Stephen Ferris, it looks more like an advertisement for shower gel or shampoo. He's obviously gorgeous and it is a fantastic photograph, but I just don't see what it has to do with rugby."

Local photographer Khara Pringle

"I think it's great to see these shots of the rugby team - it's more human to see a different, more relaxed side to them. Shooting Stephen Ferris having a shower, would be any girl's dream, well wouldn't it? I photographed Stephen, for a Macmillan Cancer shoot two years ago and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to shoot him topless. I must say he was lovely and very easy to work with."

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