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'If we're not prepared, they'll beat the crap out of us' -- Rory Best

The Ulster skipper can’t afford to dwell on the World Cup. But he can build on his personal display.

Rory Keane reports from London

IRELAND’S LOSS is Ulster’s gain, according to veteran hooker Rory Best.

Rory Best Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After a seven-year spell involved with the Ireland set-up as defensive coach, Les Kiss has moved into his new role as Ulster’s director of rugby this week.

It will be fascinating to see what kind of impact the Australian will have on a young and exciting Ulster squad this season. For Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, he will have to scour the globe for a defensive guru to match the calibre of Kiss.

“If you’re trying to replace like for like with Les. For me, in his role as defence coach with Ireland, he was one of the best defensive coaches in the world,” said Best. “I’ve only really worked with a few, but from what I’ve seen of him and what I’ve seen him do with Ireland’s defence and some of the new stuff he brings, I’d have no problem standing over that.

“It’s going to be tough but with Joe there, he’s every astute. When John Plumtree left, it was going to be a tough task but he brought Simon (Easterby) in and he brought different strengths and I don’t think the forwards have suffered since that change.

“Joe knows what he wants, he knows what he likes and he knows how he wants Ireland to go forward. He’ll bring in someone accordingly.”

Yesterday’s European Champions Cup launch at The Stoop was a slightly surreal experience for Best and his new boss Kiss.

The last time the pair were in the English capital together they were preparing for a World Cup clash against the Azurri at the Olympic Stadium in east London.

A fortnight in Cardiff followed that hard-fought victory in Stratford. The euphoria under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium during the seismic victory over France was followed by the crushing disappointment of the defeat by the Pumas at the same venue.

Rory Best Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Now, decked out in his Ulster gear, Best’s attention has turned to the looming challenges with his province starting with a trip to Rodney Parade to face the Dragons before the big business of the Champions Cup comes into focus:

“I think if we’d been like a southern hemisphere team and got knocked out of the quarter-finals and it was season over, it would have been a long ol’ holiday. The family would have to bear the brunt of that one, but now we’ve got two weeks to mentally try to freshen up a bit and now we’re into Dragons away and then Europe.

“We knew that there’s a little bit of a fear factor if we’re not prepared for the Dragons away, they will beat the crap out of you basically for want of a better expression.

“Then we go away to Oyonnax who are almost exactly the same and then home to Saracens. It’s three times that if you’re not on your money and not prepared to go to battle, you’ll not win the game.

“I think it’s good for us. For the guys who were away at the World Cup, it’s a good refocus. It’s about right, we are very much back in the deep end and ready to go again.”

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