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27th Nov 2014

‘Ireland don’t want to be one-trick ponies’ insists Les Kiss

The Irish assistant coach and Clontarf's Mick McGrath are promoting the 2014 Ulster Bank Rugby Awards

Patrick McCarry

Ireland’s defence coach insists the Six Nations champions have more in their attacking arsenal heading into 2015

The question caused Australia coach Michael Cheika to blink once, then twice, then answer. ‘Did Ireland’s game-plan surprise you at all?’

The former Leinster boss answered, ‘No. Not really… We knew they’d kick high, we knew they’d kick away from Israel Folau a lot. They pretty much did what we’d seen before and what has been a very successful formula for them.

‘Obviously they were kicking a lot, so when they kicked to us and we kicked back to them, we found ourselves a little bit short a couple of times back there.’

Ireland have claimed a Six Nations title and are on a seven-game winning streak off the back of hard work, determined defence, analysing teams forensically, attacking weakness and horsing into breakdowns. Their kick-chase and rolling mauls are the main attacking weapons. There were no slicing backline incision (kicks aside) against the Springboks and Wallabies, and both strike-plays and back row carries beyond two-metres were in short supply.

Paul O'Connell with Luke Jones 22/11/2014

So, perfectionists that we are in Ireland, questions have arose about Ireland being set in their ways. Surely, many pundits and fans are asking, we need greater attacking variation to truly challenge for the World Cup.

At an event publicising the Ulster Bank League awards, Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss commented, “My response would be I think we’re working on all parts of our game to build some variation there.

‘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 bit more. Maybe some of it was around the plans; maybe some of it was because players read the situation as it is.’

‘We’re just trying to build a more complete way that we can evolve our game as a whole,’ Kiss added. ‘The strength of our team is that all our parts work well together. Sometimes, some of the parts aren’t as good as they can be, but other parts will work hard to negate a negative effect.

When pressed on Ireland’s need to diversify in attack and trust a backline that is brimming with game-breakers, Kiss responded, ‘It’s hard to just isolate one area and to forensically look at it that way. It’s in combination with a lot of things and that’s the way we prefer to approach it.’

Hat-tip to Word In Sport

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