Rugby World Cup 2011
Ferris: Ireland will only get stronger
September 18, 2011
Stephen Ferris is tackled by Radike Samo during Saturday's bruising battle at Eden Park © Getty Images
Ireland produced a stirring performance to record a stunning 15-6 victory over Australia on Saturday but flanker Stephen Ferris is in no doubt that there is even more to come from Declan Kidney's side.
Ireland's success was founded on a tremendous defensive effort and a remarkable display from their forwards, with their tight five responsible for dismantling the Australian set-piece.
Meanwhile, Ferris and his back-row colleagues, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip, ruthlessly exploited the absence of Australia's first-choice openside David Pocock through injury by dominating at the breakdown as well as providing their side with plenty of go-forward ball.
However, in spite of the stellar performance of the pack, Ferris claims that there is room for improvement from an Irish side which is now on course for a quarter-final clash with Wales.
"We didn't peak against Australia. There's definitely a lot more attacking ability to come from us," the Ulsterman said. "This wasn't a one-off performance, we knew this was brewing and we're glad it happened against Australia.
"We'll be targeting a big win on Sunday against Russia and a big win against Italy the weekend after that. If we keep playing like we did against Australia, hopefully we'll be able to maintain this and go further in the tournament.
"We're still taking it game by game. We said at the start of the World Cup we just want to get out of the group. But our performance against Australia has put us in a good position."
Ferris' awesome display at Eden Park was particularly noteworthy given that his participation in the World Cup was in jeopardy because of a troublesome knee injury which had plagued him since January. He insists, though, that fitness has not been a concern for him since he arrived in New Zealand.
"The injury isn't in the back of my mind at all," he said. "But now I have three 80-minute performances under my belt and I'm starting to pick it up. I'm playing in a great team. Fingers crossed I'll keep improving."
Ferris certainly hopes to follow example being set to him by senior team-mates Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll, both of whom were a source of inspiration and motivation ahead of the clash with the Wallabies.
"You look at them in the changing room before a match and you see how much it means to them," he said. "Paul O'Connell started with tears in his eyes, telling us how he will attack the game in the first 10 minutes. You take heart from that.
"I'm a fairly quiet man when it comes to the changing room and on the pitch. I listen to those guys and feed off them."
Meanwhile, fly-half Jonathan Sexton revealed that the players had never lost faith in themselves in spite of their poor run of form leading into the game, having only managed to bring a run of four successive defeats to an end with a laboured victory over the United States in their tournament opener.
"We always had belief even though lots of people wrote us off," the Leinster ace said. "Our form was poor coming into the competition but people didn't notice that we used a lot of players and concentrated on getting people match-fit.
"Even the guys who weren't coming with us, we tried to get them match-fit so that if there were any injuries they'd be ready. We were chopping and changing the team and that stopped us getting the continuity. Hopefully we can build on this now."
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