Friday 9 December 2016

Mental weakness not a problem in Ulster – Kiss

Published 23/05/2016 | 02:30

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The dust had barely settled on yet another Ulster play-off defeat but Les Kiss was already turning his attention to his first pre-season in charge of the province.

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There is no doubting the improvements that Ulster have made under Kiss  and the feeling is that they will improve again when the Australian is allowed to develop his game-plan.

The arrival of marquee signings Charles Piutau and Marcell Coetzee will be a major boost – even if the latter isn’t fully fit until November.

It was the same feeling of old for Ulster on Friday night, however, and as much as the future looks bright, it will be scant consolation for a group of supporters whose 10-year wait for a trophy trudges on.

“We just have to find a way to understand that when it comes to these big ones, we need to make a step further,” Kiss insisted.

“That’s not to suggest there’s a weakness there. It’s just about understanding how they can use the strength they have and play out those moments to our benefit.

“There’s enough young guys there to not be scarred too heavily. There’s a belief in them that they can step into the place where we need to be. Our challenge is to make sure that we build a framework around our preparation to make sure that we can step up when it matters. It’s something to work on for us but I also believe that other parts of our game will continue to grow in terms of our tactical approach.”

Ulster’s squad will be stronger next season but until they get over the mental block when it comes to the crunch, their barren spell will go on.

After hammering Leinster in Belfast and finishing in regular season in such fine form, the time for excuses should have been over. But nevertheless Kiss is optimistic about what can be achieved in the coming seasons.

“Our roster will be undoubtedly stronger next year with the new players coming in, some young and also strong foreign talent.

“You need a blend of both. To tell the truth, we will be stronger next year and we will be even stronger the year after that. It’s not built overnight.

“Why Leinster can do this is on the back of the good depth that they have and they’ve built that over a number of years. That’s our challenge.”

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