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Les Kiss: Discipline the key for Ireland in land of the giants

“We’re not about evaporating away from the ruck area, we’ll pick and choose when we go for it,” says the defence coach.

Image: INPHO

AND NOW WE cross to Les Kiss with the latest international rugby weather forecast:

“There’s a possibility there could be a period of the game when it’s not raining, but it’s still blustery.

“Obviously, a lot of people say it, but in wet conditions it’s sometimes better not to have the ball.”

Thanks, Les.

This time last year, Ireland had already seen off Wales in their quest for a Six Nations crown. Three tries, 30 points and a win against the reigning Grand Slam champions. The best possible start ensured confidence was high for the campaign’s second week.

Then, almost on the stroke of midnight, the rain came down in Dublin. Divine intervention for England, and the bigger pack suffocated all hope out of Irish rugby.

Ireland’s new coaching ticket means that 2014 has been far from Déjà vu, but Wales arrived in Dublin yesterday still as the Six Nations champions and, with Kiss predicting rain, the visitors will no doubt look to make their extra weight count in the tight contact areas.

“We’re under no illusions about the challenge, it’s like the land of the giants out there, for sure,” said Kiss after yesterday’s captain’s run on Lansdowne Road.

The defence coach opted not to echo the coaching sentiment from last week’s game, which called for trust in the defensive line in open play. That message still stands, but the Ireland camp has been attempting to eradicate penalties in order to limit the impact Leigh Halfpenny has on this game.

“We showed in November that we’re a very disciplined and accurate team around the tackle area. Last week we only had seven penalties against us. That’s one of the things we’re trying to drive hard internally, to be a disciplined and accurate team. Trust in that area as well, and knowing that our defence can keep turning up and owning up is very important.”

Although there appears to be some initiative from referees to encourage more contested breakdowns, would the threat of a deadly accurate goal-kicker (along with tough handling conditions) see Ireland counter-ruck less often in favour for a more solid defensive line?

As long as the green jerseys show ‘good pictures’ to referee Wayne Barnes, then the answer will be no.

Go hard at home

“You can still go hard at the breakdown and have accuracy and fight hard to stay on your feet and show good pictures to the referee. Also to your own team-mates, that you’re committed to doing the right thing.

“If the contest is on, we’ll go for it, but if it’s not we can make strong decisions around it.

“It’s just trusting the fact that our technique is something we’re working on – our mental toughness, to be accurate and clinical in that area so that we give the right pictures to the referee and to ourselves so that we trust people around that area to make good strong decisions.

“We’re not about evaporating away from the ruck area; we’ll pick and choose when we go for it.”

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Sean Farrell

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