James Hume should start one of Ireland's Test matches against New Zealand, says Stephen Ferris.

The 23-year-old centre was named Ulster Rugby Writers' player of the season and excelled in the province’s European and URC runs.

Ferris, who won 35 Ireland caps and toured with the Lions in 2009, believes Hume’s current form warrants not just an outing against the Maori All Blacks, who will host an Ireland XV twice, but a start in one of the three Tests.

Ahead of Hume in the queue are Leinster’s Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw and Connacht’s Bundee Aki, the last two Lions Test match starters against South Africa.

Hume was named on the URC team of the season

"He deserves to start a Test match against the All Blacks," said Ferris at the launch of Canterbury’s new Ireland jersey.

"I personally feel he’s been the best 13 in Ireland this season. I think he’s been the most consistent, he’s carved it up, he hits good running lines, he’s a really good distributor, a good step, he’s a good finish on him, he’s a really good tackler when he gets up and puts heat on you.

"The two games that he played against Leinster, he was excellent. I certainly think he deserves a shot.

"Will he get it? I don’t know.

"Everybody talks about Robbie Henshaw, it’s all about the players that are ahead of him at the minute. But why are they ahead of him? Just because they have 30 caps for Ireland?

"Possibly because they’ve played with each other more in combination, there are a few things going against him and if he does get an opportunity he has to link in really well with someone like Bundee Aki at 12, who is a lot like [Ulster centre] Stuart McCloskey in the way he can play and the physicality he brings to games.

"I fully expect him to get a Test run at some stage."

Stephen Ferris was talking at the launch of the Ireland jersey that will be worn the 2022/23 season

Hume has three caps to his name, with two replacement appearances coming in the last Six Nations campaign.

"I firmly believe that this should be guys given an opportunity, not just to come off the bench for 10 minutes bit to start two or three of the Test matches," added Ferris.

"Let’s see what they can do on the biggest stage with the best players around them, not [just] in an Autumn Nations game against Japan where they’re winning by 70 points and they are playing with 14 other lads in the same position, fighting for an opportunity.

"Let’s start James Hume alongside Johnny Sexton and Bundee Aki, with James Lowe on the wing and Hugo Keenan at full-back and see if he can fit in there.

"For me that’s what this summer tour should be about, finding out the next three or four lads who will be playing for Ireland over the next decade."

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