Les Kiss: ‘Thomond Park is a special place to play, we have to embrace that side of it’

While Munster, who will have one eye on the big Saracens test the following week, are likely to be without six of their front-line players, Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss is more or less able to stack his side for Saturday’s must-win PRO12 clash at Thomond Park.

Les Kiss: ‘Thomond Park is a special place to play, we have to embrace that side of it’

Although Ireland’s Jared Payne is sidelined, and they are without long-term injuries Tommy Bowe and Marcell Coetzee, flanker Chris Henry is back in action after missing last week’s disappointing share of the spoils with Cardiff, a result which saw Ulster slip to fifth place.

Kiss said he’s hoping Payne will return for the away clash with Ospreys in two weeks time.

“Jared will not play this week and we will see how that goes.

“It is an ankle sprain or a twist. The scans have shown a few little things. But hopefully it’ll be two weeks max, if not one. So hopefully he’ll be good for the Ospreys,” said Kiss, who stated the obvious in that it’s now all about winning.

“With Leinster managing to beat Ospreys things are sort of still in your own hands,” he said.

“It is bloody interesting, a lot of people hanging on results here or there for sure. We certainly had to and other teams have had to as well.

“But we dropped the opportunity to really push ourselves into a good spot.

“They say a draw is like kissing your sister and it certainly felt like that!

“We have tried to pull the positives from it. We know we are still in the hunt but we were disappointed with certain executions on the pitch at times.

“Sometimes it is the right decision, but a poor execution, sometimes we are just making that wrong decision.

“You do not hold a guy, but a couple of missed tackles were costly.

“But ultimately we had a chance and we did not take it. Two points was enough to keep us right in the hunt.

“When you look at the run-in for other teams and ourselves, it becomes pretty desperate for all the Welsh and the Irish teams, the main people in the hunt, all of us have two derbies as well.

“Derbies also throw up a lot of interesting situations, circumstances and we are coming up against one of the more brilliant teams in these situations, particularly at Thomond.

“It is treated like a fortress by them and the guys have spoken about it this week.

“It is a special place to play, we have to embrace that side of it.

“It is fairly tenuous at the minute, the competition, and we have to be as good as we have been away, bringing to mind the Glasgow-type performance which was exceptional,” explained Kiss, who looked back at that game last year and tried to explain why it has not been repeated.

“There’s a lot of reasons why we have not replicated that win. We have ruminated over and worked on addressing certain things. If there is a place that is going to bring something out for us, you have to say it has to be Thomond Park and that is what we have in front of us.”

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