Rugby World Cup rewind: Stephen Ferris rag dolls Will Genia 6 months ago

Rugby World Cup rewind: Stephen Ferris rag dolls Will Genia

Stephen Ferris might be one of the most dynamic forwards Ireland has ever produced.

Big, aggressive, powerful, and unfortunately, dogged by injuries. The Ulster flanker retired from the game at 29 and played his last game for Ireland in 2012, but during his prime he was very hard to stop and was part of a powerhouse Irish backrow that also featured Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

Ireland's 2011 Rugby World Cup ultimately ended in disappointment after a quarter-final defeat to Wales but before that loss there was a real sense of optimism for what the side could achieve following a Grand Slam win in 2009.

The team had a decent Six Nations with their only losses coming to France and Wales, both by less than one converted try, while their Pool at the World Cup hinged on the game against Australia.

Win, and they would avoid South Africa in the quarter-finals and then New Zealand in the semi-finals, lose and they'd end up on the same side of the draw as the southern hemisphere heavyweights.

Ireland won and avoided the southern hemisphere heavyweights but Ferris insists at the time the squad had more of a focus on righting a few wrongs from the 22-10 win over the United States.

"We just wanted to just put in a really good performance after the USA game because we felt like we did okay against the USA but we felt like we'd left a couple of tries out there," Ferris told SportsJOE.

"I think the USA scored with more or less the last play of the game and it took some of the shine off that win so we wanted to build on the momentum of that game and put in a good performance.

"We certainly tried to target them up front and I think Cian Healy got man of the match of the match that day and our scrum was dominant throughout the game. Once we got the upper hand we didn't try change our gameplan or play expansively, we just ground them down."

Ireland slugged out a 15-6 win in at Eden Park in Auckland with Johnny Sexton and Ronan O'Gara both kicking penalty goals to steer Ireland to victory.

One of the defining moments of the game was when Ferris picked up Genia and dragged him well behind the gainline with the help of Eoin Reddan and a few others.

Ferris said that it was just an instinctive play on his behalf but that Ireland had practiced the choke tackle numerous times during training.

"The way I tried to play the game I always tried to have an influence on game changing moments," added Ferris.

"I always wanted to make an impact on the game. That might have been from a big hit or a big carry or a choke tackle like that against Genia.

"It was just an instinct really. Somebody who is very, very small and light. We were practicing the choke tackle a lot when it came to training. If you could choke tackle somebody and drive them back it made sense.

"As soon as I lifted him up there were about three or four guys coming in behind me and we drove him back like 10 yards.

"We got the scrum from that but from my point of view, as a spectator now, watching the game, I'd like to see that rule taken out of the game because it slows the game up."

Ireland will begin their World Cup preparations with a warm-up game against England this weekend before two more warm-up games against defending Six Nations champions Wales.

They will officially begin their tournament against Scotland on September 22nd.