Stephen Ferris criticises Ulster display in Scarlets defeat

Stephen Ferris in action for Ulster against the Scarlets last year
Ulster and Ireland star Stephen Ferris was forced to retire from rugby last season because of injury

Former Ireland star Stephen Ferris says Ulster's performance in Saturday's 22-12 Pro12 defeat by the Scarlets was the province's "poorest in a long time".

Ulster slumped to a 22-12 reverse even though the home side suffered three yellow cards during the Llanelli game.

"I think the majority of the (Ulster players) went on holiday," said BBC Radio Ulster pundit Ferris.

"The standard out there was very, very poor. That performance was just not good enough."

The Scarlets led 9-0 at half-time after a lethargic first-half display by the Irish province and despite Rory Scholes's second-period try, the Scarlets eased to victory with Dan Jones kicking 17 points.

"The second half didn't get much better. The 50-50s (passes and off-loads) didn't stick," added former Ulster, Ireland and Lions star Ferris.

"When it's not your day and they aren't sticking, you don't throw them. You just hold on to the ball.

"There were just some schoolboy errors out there and Ulster paid the price in the end."

Ferris said that half-backs Paul Marshall and Peter Nelson had been unable to control the game but that they hadn't been given any protection by their struggling pack.

"You need your leaders to take control and put their mark on the game."

Ferris was forced to retire from the game at the age of 28 in June 2014 because of an ankle injury.

The flanker represented the British & Irish Lions in the 2009 series in South Africa after helping Ireland land the Grand Slam earlier that year.

He won 35 Ireland caps and played 106 games for Ulster.