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Kiss expects to see Leinster put the boot in for Pro12 semi-final

Ulster’s director of rugby is expecting to face a much better, more varied attack than the one he shut down late last month.

Image: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

ULSTER DIRECTOR OF rugby Les Kiss is under no illusions about the size of the task facing Ulster in Friday’s Pro12 semi-final away to Leinster.

When the two provinces run out in the RDS it will be just shy of three weeks since Ulster romped to a 30-6 win in Belfast to maintain control of their push for the fourth and final play-off spot.

However, Kiss is expecting that elapsed time to bring about a sizable transformation in Leo Cullen’s side.

“I’d say Leinster were a little bit under-done,” said Kiss as he looked out on a Kingspan Stadium pitch, which he won’t put to use again until next season.

“They had a lot of guys who hadn’t played a lot of footy. They’ve another couple under their belt now and I think they’ll be in a far better place on the day.

“I know what they’ve got up on the wall: ‘Ulster think Leinster are predictable…’ We don’t think that. We just knew they weren’t the type of team they were (capable of being) on that day. So they’ll be building an attitude and a mindset around that and fair enough.”

Even so, Kiss moved to make a quick prediction about the kind of threat his defence can expect, partially-informed by Jonathan Sexton’s miserly tally of just four in-play kicks when the teams last met.

“We’re likely to get a lot more of the tactical kicking game from them,” says Kiss, “short kicks in behind the line, reverse kicks off Johnny and a heap of variations they’ll throw at us.”

ohnny Sexton Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Of course, the other inescapable difference between the semi-final and the regular season drubbing is the venue. The RDS has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the northern province and the weight of Pro12 semi-final history doesn’t offer much hope either.

“They’ll be a lot more comfortable at home – they will not be the same team that were out there (Kingspan Stadium), and I don’t mean personnel, I mean the type of game they’ll play. We have to steel ourselves, put ourselves in a space that understands that, delivers on that.

“Key for us is to make sure we stay in that place, because we respect them massively and we have to do our basics well.”

Consistency

Kiss reported no fresh injury worries to a squad which has proven durable over the closing weeks of the season. So the Australian made little attempt to smokescreen his likely selection.

“The group have been exceptional, the 30-plus players who have been helping us prepare. Some guys won’t get a chance this week, and haven’t for the last four or five, but they keep putting their hand up for us. We’ve been fortunate to have a bit of consistency and it’s helped without a doubt.

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“However, I think in the last two games when we’ve brought the bench on they’ve done exceptionally well in critical moments. They’ve slotted in very seamlessly which is helpful.

“We’ve looked at selection and had a good think about what’s going to get the job done. One of the keys of getting a good job done is not tinkering too much, so that might give you a clue.”

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