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Ferris encouraged by back row form


Stephen Ferris

Stephen Ferris

Stephen Ferris

Stephen Ferris insists Ireland's back row is capable of mixing it with any loose trio at the World Cup.

Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip have formed the tournament's most effective partnership, though Wales and New Zealand are pushing them close. There are few more destructive ball carriers than Ferris and O'Brien, while number eight Heaslip is the only member of the squad to have played every minute of all four pool matches.

"We fancy ourselves against any back row at the World Cup. Given the way we're playing we'd rate ourselves against anyone," said Ferris.

"It's great being a part of this unit. Sean has been fantastic. The Italy game was only the second time I've started with him. Every time he carries the ball you're looking to run off his shoulder because you know he'll break the first tackle. Against Italy he showed the world what he's made of.

"Sean thinks the same of me and we both think the same of Jamie. We seem to be clicking very well and sharing the workload. The balance is good - it's worked well so far."

The back row has spearheaded Ireland's march into the quarter-finals, where they will meet Wales in Wellington on Saturday. Victories over Australia and Italy, who were ruthlessly crushed 36-6 on Sunday, have identified them as genuine contenders to reach the final.

"Coming into the World Cup we talked about taking it game by game and that's what we've done," said Ferris. "We need to approach Wales with the same attitude - the only thing that matters is beating them.

"Wales are playing some good stuff at the moment. We watched them before we played Italy. They looked very silky and it will be another massive contest for us. But the way we're playing at the moment we can beat anyone.

"Over the last couple of years we've been capable of raising our game - just look at the 2009 Grand Slam, beating England in March and then Australia here.

"Every week it's getting bigger and bigger. The prize for beating Wales is massive as it will mean we're here to the end of the tournament. All the focus will be on doing a job on these boys."

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