Stephen Ferris hungry for return to action after injury

Stephen Ferris says he wants to make a contribution to Ulster and Ireland's season as he nears the end of his recovery from an ankle injury.

The back row forward hopes to be back in action "in three to four weeks".

"Ireland and Ulster are both doing very well so I want to play my part as I believe there are trophies to be won at the end of it," said Ferris.

"I'm focused on getting back in action as my season hasn't started properly. I'm just building up my fitness now."

If his rehabilitation continues to go to schedule, Ferris could still play a part in Ireland's Six Nations campaign and would be ready to play for Ulster against Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Twickenham.

Stephen Ferris was injured in the Pro12 game against Glasgow in early November

Stephen Ferris was injured in a Pro12 game against Glasgow in early November

Ireland face Scotland on 24 February, then take on France on 9 March and finally play Italy on 16 March.

The Lions tour to Australia in the summer also remains on the radar of the talented flanker.

"You have to stay positive when you have injuries - and now I'm at the stage where I just have to concentrate on getting back to playing well and the Lions thing will take care of itself.

"If I don't go with the Lions, there is an Ireland tour to the United States and Canada and it would be good to get some game time there too."

Ferris was impressed with Ireland's opening Six Nations win over Wales but admits he was surprised that Ulster team-mates Andrew Trimble and Tom Court were not included in the match-day 22, and that Chris Henry did not start the game.

"Andrew is one of the form wingers in Ireland and Tom has been destroying every prop he has come up against, week in, week out," argued Ferris.

He believes Ulster have what it takes to win the Heineken Cup this season but adds that the squad "will be taking it one game at a time" with that tough quarter-final against Mark McCall's side to come in April.

"We have a great bunch of lads at Ulster, with a great atmosphere in the dressing room, but that all comes from winning, and we intend to keep that going.

"Mark (Anscombe) has built on what Brian McLaughlin left behind, and the foundations laid by David Humphreys.

"He listens to the players in one-to-one meetings and is open to ideas, so you can't ask more than that."