Kiss: Ireland will give Best as long as possible to prove fitness

Kiss: Ireland will give Best as long as possible to prove fitness

Defence coach Les Kiss has insisted his four-month Ulster sabbatical will have no impact on his preparations for Ireland’s autumn Test series.

The former Waratahs coach assumed an interim director of rugby role with Ulster between June and October to plug the gap left by the twin summer departures of David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe.

Kiss will leave the Ireland set-up after Rugby World Cup 2015 and return to Ravenhill as full-time rugby director.

The 49-year-old believes his short-term Ulster stint to help Neil Doak prepare to take the head coach reins will not affect Ireland’s autumn challenges against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.

“The Ulster work was probably more than anything trying to help facilitate the coaches there take forward the challenge they have,” said Kiss.

“My main role was just to help Doaky and the guys get to a position where they could take it forward.

“I was happy to help out, it was a great opportunity personally, but I was still doing a lot of days back in the office with Ireland.

“I enjoyed it, but that’s in the past and I’m really focused on this jersey and being back here now; it’s certainly had no affect on any of this.”

Ireland host South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, with head coach Joe Schmidt’s side heavily depleted by injury.

Kiss said Ireland will give hooker Rory Best as long as possible to prove his fitness after calf trouble, with the match squad to be confirmed on Thursday.

Fast-rising fly-half star Handre Pollard has been widely credited with helping South Africa develop a more threatening expansive attacking game.

Despite the Springboks’ increased running raids however, Kiss has still warned Ireland to steel themselves for a brutal battle up front.

“It’s still important to remember they will still go to the core parts of their game,” said Kiss, who was South Africa defence coach between 2001 and 2002.

“They will drive, they will send big runners at you, their nines are canny players and they can shape that ruck area really nicely so you’ve got to be aware of that.

“They will kick the ball but you’ve got to be smart with when they’ll kick and why. So their core strengths are still huge threats.

“They have built another layer to their play. Pollard’s given them a bit more reliability about how they get the ball into that second, third channel. And he’s more of a carrier as well.

“So it’s a double-edged sword to defend the frontline when they will run it wider from deeper, but still also be able to cover the spaces there that they will kick to at times.

“They can hurt you before you know it with their very good kick chase. It’s a massive challenge defensively and we’ve done a lot of work on it.

“We’ve got a wonderful form of physicality of our own when it’s in the right spaces though, and that’s the challenge we’ve got to take to the Springboks.”

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