The Ulster man confirmed his retirement today, three months after coming back from an ankle injury which had sidelined him since November 2012.
I have had a great career, met many wonderful people and I hang up the boots with no regrets
He returned as a replacement in a win against the Scarlets in March and made three more brief appearances for Ulster with his last match a defeat by Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Ravenhill before another injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.
The 28-year-old played 106 times for his province, won 35 caps for Ireland and was part of the 2009 British & Irish Lions squad to South Africa.
“It is every young rugby player’s dream to represent their province and their country and I have been enormously privileged to have done both,” said Ferris.
“I have shared a pitch with so many talented players over the past nine years and I want to thank my team-mates at Ulster and Ireland for the support that they have given me.
“I have had a great career, met many wonderful people and I hang up the boots with no regrets.”
Ferris, who made his debut for Ulster in 2005 at the age of 20, was a mainstay of the province’s back row and was an integral part of Declan Kidney’s 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning Ireland side, playing in all five matches.
The Ulster star also scored two tries for the Lions in two warm-up matches in South Africa before a torn medial collateral ligament robbed him of a place in the Test team.
The Ulster Academy graduate also represented Ireland at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and won his last international cap against England in the 2012 Six Nations.
“I would like to thank Stephen for the outstanding contribution that he has made to Ulster Rugby,” said director of rugby David Humphreys.
“We knew from the day and hour that he walked into the academy that he was an exceptional talent. Through dedication and hard work he developed into one of the best forwards in the world game.
“He has always played an important leadership role within the squad and he helped mentor and inspire others.
“While we are sorry to be losing Stephen, we recognise and celebrate the exceptional rugby career that he has had and wish him every success in the future.”
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