"He was someone I looked up to" - Stephen Ferris pays tribute to Anthony Foley

Ex-Ireland and Ulster back-row shares fond memory of the Munster and Ireland great

BY Raf Diallo 20:42 Wednesday 19 October 2016, 20:42 19 Oct 2016

Former Ireland and Ulster back-row Stephen Ferris has described Anthony Foley as a rugby hero he looked up to in his formative years.

Ferris joined Off The Ball on Wednesday night rugby and shared fond memories of being coached by the Munster and Ireland legend who passed away on Sunday in Paris.

"Fortunately for myself, I was coached by Anthony Foley and that's what I remember most," he said.

"I didn't work with him for long but he's someone that I looked up to and watched as I was evolving in the game in my late teens and coming into the professional setup.

"As a No 8, me playing at under-age level the whole way through my career until maybe the early 20s, he was just an iconic figure for Munster and Irish rugby. It's a tragic, tragic time for everyone involved. The whole rugby world has come to a standstill over the last few days and I just hope the lads for Munster can go out on Saturday and really dig in mentally and hopefully grind out a bit of a result and I think Anthony would be very proud of the lads lacing up their boots this weekend."

In September 2012, Ulster and Irish rugby experienced the tragic loss of Nevin Spence at the age of 22.  

"It's really, really difficult. Everybody's different when it comes to emotions. Some people can deal with it. Some people might just burst into tears in a team meeting. Other guys like to be alone. Other guys like to be surrounded by people. So everybody deals with it differently and I'd say it's no different down in Munster either," said Ferris, before touching on the emotion at Thomond Park this Saturday coming in their European Rugby Champions Cup fixture against Glasgow.

"It's not about the result this weekend, it's about remembering Anthony Foley. Hopefully it will be a good occasion in the end. But there's a lot of sad hearts out there as well."

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