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Stephen Ferris back in the groove and ready to rock English

By Niall Crozier

Stephen Ferris has assured Irish supporters that he is over the knee injury and surgery which sidelined him for seven months.

He insists he is ready for the World Cup. But before Ireland depart on Tuesday for that New Zealand-hosted global showpiece, Ferris will be on duty this afternoon at the Aviva Stadium where Ireland face England in the Guinness Summer Series (2.30pm).

It will be the Ulster flanker's first Test match start in nine months, his most recent being the late November 2010 Test against Argentina in which he scored a 20th minute try.

He no longer participates in every training session, the medical team and fitness experts having agreed on a programme to spare his troublesome left knee the full intensity of the schedules.

"I don't do every single training session," Ferris revealed. "I do the main bulk of the sessions, but if there's a captain's run I'll sit that out and just rest up for the game.

"It's something that needs to be managed over the next few years. I had to manage it for a while after 2006 when I first injured it and that worked; I didn't really have any hassle with it for three or four years."

With almost all of the cartilage now removed, it is pretty much a case of bone on bone. Ferris (pictured) is not concerned about that.

"The bone actually heals - repairs itself - the more impact it gets," he stresses.

"The amount of running I've done on the ultra-g treadmill, starting off with 60-70% bodyweight going through my joints, building it up for three or four weeks and then eventually back running on the pitch with 100% bodyweight and just slowly progressing the whole thing, means my leg strength now probably is stronger than it was before I injured my knee.

"My quads, glutes and hamstrings probably take a lot more pressure off my joint now because I'm a good bit stronger."

His introduction for the final quarter of last weekend's Test against France was a moment he savoured.

"I walked onto the pitch for the first 15 or 20 metres, just looked around and kind of took it all in again. It was a bit like your first cap all over again," he says.

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