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Saturday 22 September 2018

Kiss wary of 'scary' Autumn tests

IRELAND assistant coach Les Kiss finds the prospect of the November internationals "quite scary".

Who could blame him? The matches start hard and get more difficult after that, culminating in that riveting test against the awesome All Blacks.

"When you look at what Samoa offer, the Aussies are improving with (Will) Genia and (Quade) Cooper really hitting some form and the All Blacks are just sublime at the moment," said Kiss (right).

The management is also wary of being 'hijacked' by incidents outside its control such as Jonathan Sexton's to-and-fro from Paris and Conor Murray's clearance from a citing on Wednesday.

"There is a lot of discussion around things that could be distractions – the Johnny/Conor thing. We are very committed as a group to make sure those things stay where they are.

"This week is about cohesion. It is also about the guys finding their feet in a different type of environment. I think they've done very well."

The limited time for the new coaching regime to blend has been made easier by Kiss's previous involvement under Declan Kidney. There is a measure of continuity there.

As an interim solution, Kiss held sway on the two-test Tour to North America where incoming coach Joe Schmidt played the part of a keen observer.

"I guess I am the mainstay of the coaches. I have been here before. I knew what my role was beforehand.

"I had a couple of months there to hold ship and make sure that we had a good summer tour."

In the meantime, the injury crisis that ruined Ireland's Six Nations prompted a review of process and procedure about the management and medical treatment of players.

"It was looked at. We looked at the processes right through the system.

"There was nothing that stood out and said 'this is what's been done wrong, this is what's putting us under pressure'," said Kiss.

"I would say that what came out of it was that things were going well in terms of the processes.

"It wasn't showing up in certain areas or under certain training conditions.

"You don't like to say 'bad luck', but these things happen. And when it rains it pours. That is, I think, what did happen."

That, as they say, remains to be seen.

New Zealander Dave Ellis has joined Connacht on a one-year deal as their new skills coach.

"I have worked with Dave in New Zealand and he is a truly innovative technical coach who gets results," said head coach Pat Lam.

"A huge part of our vision here at Connacht Rugby is having a rugby programme that develops players so that they can perform the basic skills under pressure and against any team they face. I'm thrilled that Dave has come in to head up that skills programme for us."

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