Rugby legend Mike Gibson has paid a warm and glowing tribute to Stephen Ferris.
“I can think of no better ambassador for Ulster and Irish rugby.
“He’s already achieved much in a short period of time and he’s a real credit to the sport.
“Providing he steers clear of injury there’s no limit to what he can achieve,” said Gibson.
It’s high praise from a man who is regarded as arguably one of the greatest players to pull on a Lions jersey.
Like Gibson, Ferris is a player of great versatility, having figured for both Ulster and Ireland in all three back row positions.
He made his full Ireland debut against the Pacific Islanders in November 2006 and was than chosen in the squad for the 2007 World Cup.
But he had to be content with a place on the bench as the Irish challenge disintegrated.
But all that was forgotten last season when he was very much to the fore as Ireland swept all before them in capturing the Grand Slam.
The man who began his rugby career at Friends School under the watchful eye of Barney McGonigle was immense sealing his selection for the Lions tour of South Africa.
He scored his first Lions try on June 3 against the Golden Lions, but was then forced to withdraw from the squad six days later after tearing his medial collateral ligament in his right knee during a training session. On returning home he wasted little time in planning his rehabilitation.
His dedication paid huge dividends and now once more Ulster are reaping the benefits of having a fully fit and focused Ferris back causing mayhem with his strong, forceful running.
Younger readers have to remember that Gibson played in an era when international caps were a scarce commodity.
He first played for Ireland in 1964 and won his 69th and final cap in the second and final Test victory against Australia in Sydney in 1979.
It was a mark of his remarkable versatility that he played for Ireland in four different positions.
But it was as a centre that he excelled particularly on the 1971 Lions tour of New Zealand, where he was a central figure in the Lions’ only series win in that country.