Monday 23 October 2017

Ireland can rise again for one last push – Kiss

Head coach Declan Kidney takes part in the Irish squad activity day in
Queenstown yesterday ahead of Saturday's third test against New Zealand
Head coach Declan Kidney takes part in the Irish squad activity day in Queenstown yesterday ahead of Saturday's third test against New Zealand

Hugh Farrelly in Queenstown

NEW ZEALAND television seems to have Ireland's second Test defeat in Christchurch on a loop, and it is not a viewing experience that becomes easier through numbed repetition.

For all of Nigel Owens' protestations, that decisive scrum award (the ball went backwards) and subsequent penalty to New Zealand remain a travesty that the passage of time is failing to address.

There is a shot of the Ireland coaches' box on the final whistle which shows Ireland defensive coach Les Kiss looking absolutely distraught, as forwards coach Gert Smal places a consoling arm around his shoulders and head coach Declan Kidney has a word in his ear.

Kiss is charged with overseeing Ireland's attack and defence and had channelled all his energies into causing the world champions problems in both areas, something he achieved superbly, only to have the victory it had made possible snatched away by dubious officiating.

Three days on, and the Australian, while now directing his thought process towards the final Test in Hamilton, still grimaces when he thinks of the pain of that coaches' box.

"I was pretty shattered about the whole thing but more than anything (it's) just that the players didn't get what they deserved," says Kiss.

"In the box you need that moment just to take it in, suck it in, maybe to blow a few expletives out.


"It's the thing that frustrates me the most in the coaching box, the refereeing decisions, but ultimately you can't hold it in for too long I guess and you've got to move on. There's obviously a personal feeling of 'why?' and you feel gutted for the guys.

"Logic would say, they weren't given much chance and you can understand why people are saying that -- the most important people who should believe are us, as a group.

"And there was a belief there, even though the first Test was a bit shabby, there was something you knew was existing. I thought they did enough to get the money (win) and... it would have been nice to get a couple of calls."

Like Kidney on Saturday night, Kiss cannot say too much about the refereeing but he is hoping, as do all coaches, for understandable interpretations and consistency, starting with Romain Poite on Saturday.

"Gert says often that when he was with the Springboks and they were No 1 (in the world), they knew they got 50-50 calls," adds Kiss.

"It seems like, for some reason, the refs have that feeling about them (New Zealand) but then again, look, in the things you can't control, you can only try and influence by discussion with them (refs) -- it is the things that we can control that I think are more important to us.

"It is the best thing for us to focus on, you can't sit in a wilderness of thought, you have to have something tangible that you can actually get hold of and put your energies into.

"You don't want to be talking about 'what ifs?', you need to pull it back into the things that you can grab hold of and improve, and that provides a more purposeful way for guys to regenerate their appetite, that will and desire to get back to where they need to."

Given that there is little danger of any All Blacks complacency this weekend, the bar has just been raised on where the Irish players need to get to -- particularly having lost key performers Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D'Arcy to injury.

Can Ireland hit the same heights again?


"It's a valid question. The answer is yes," stresses Kiss.

"To me that's what it's about this week -- putting ourselves in a place where we can get out there again. You don't make promises, but I know the hard commitment is there by the guys to make sure that they do what they have to do to get there.

"And again we haven't left a stone unturned in terms of coaching.

"We worked some good hours, some smart hours at the beginning of the week to hopefully provide a little more insight for the players in areas where we can advance a few things and get on top of any other areas so that the intensity is there and the commitment is there -- touch wood -- that it goes to that place.

"It's that thing that you don't know but I've no doubt it's there.

"Last week, it wasn't just passion, it was beyond that.

"In all honesty, the way the guys have taken certain part of the tactics and applied them on the game I thought was superb. So that part of the chess game will play out again this week.

"We (the coaches) were just saying the other day, we'd love another five games in a row here. That would just be heaven as a coach, because we know that we would just keep improving.

"These guys deserve it.

"Everything and anything is possible."

Irish Independent

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