Les Kiss insists Ireland are no ‘one-trick pony’, but the assistant coach has also warned the November clean sweep offers no guarantees as Joe Schmidt’s side turns their attention towards the defence of their Six Nations title.
Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive after Ireland’s three-game winning run this month, but a consistent reliance on the boot has been noted by friend and foe alike, with opposing coaches remarking on the siege-gun approach.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer alluded to it after their defeat three weekends ago while his Australian counterpart, Michael Cheika, was more blunt in assessing the use of “bombs” by Ireland to gain metres and possession.
Cheika was, it must be said, firm in his praise of Schmidt’s side, but both he and Meyer insisted that they had in no way been taken by surprise by anything Ireland had thrown at them in the course of their respective games in Dublin.
“My response to that is that we’re working on all parts of our game to build some variation there,” said Kiss at the launch of the Ulster Bank League Awards that celebrate coaches, players and teams across the divisions. “We don’t want to be a one-trick pony by any means and I don’t think we are.
“In the Six Nations, we used the ball in hand a little bit more. This time we kicked a little more, maybe some of it was according to plan, maybe some of it was because players read the situation as it was and we’re just trying to a build a more complete way that we can evolve our game as a whole.
“I’d be reticent to say it’s in one particular area. I think it’s a combination of things and I think it’s a strength or our team that all parts work together, and sometimes some parts aren’t as good as they can be while other parts have work harder to negate any negative effect in that area.”
Schmidt has followed the accepted template for any new coach in any team sport: start off by concentrating on defence and making your team hard to beat and then work from there. It would be a shock if the attacking brief is not added to from here on in.
Kiss dismissed the suggestion Ireland lacked in game-breakers in their back line, but balanced those observations by pointing out there remains plenty of work to do to improve the squad as it turns through the New Year.
The review of the South Africa, Georgia and Australia triple-header has already begun — Joe Schmidt has been in touch with his staff despite his appendicitis and surgery over the weekend — and staff and players will meet again for a mini-camp next month.
“It’s pleasing to get the result, but we have been in the game too long to know that it doesn’t promise anything over the horizon,” says Kiss.
“It doesn’t guarantee us anything for the Six Nations. It’s what you do leading up to that and how you deal with that moment.
“So, while it is good to reflect on a job well done in terms of results, we are not going to be fooled by that… you can’t predict those things going forward.”
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