Wednesday 21 February 2018

Kiss admits Henderson may miss entire season

Ulster's Iain Henderson may miss the entire season according to Kiss
Ulster's Iain Henderson may miss the entire season according to Kiss
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Les Kiss' introduction to life as Ulster's director or rugby has been nothing short of a baptism of fire and although victory against Edinburgh last Friday momentarily steadied matters, the injury fallout has brought it all crashing back down to earth again.

Ulster are awaiting results of a second scan on Iain Henderson's hamstring and although he certainly faces a lengthy spell out, there is a faint hope that he will play again before the season's end.

"Iain's type of injury has historically been up to six months (out)," Kiss admitted.

"It worries me that players get injured yeah, but that's the nature of the beast. Henderson wasn't a collision, it was a stress through the body and it gave way. There's no way that I like to see blokes injured but you have to be aware that it's part and parcel of the game.

"What I do like here is there's a real solid approach to manage the load. We have the GPS data to make sure they're not getting to those stress points and hopefully we can dodge it that way."

Toulouse arrive in Belfast on Friday still smarting from their no-show against Saracens in round one but given the events that had taken place in Paris the night before, their minds were understandably elsewhere.

Having been undone by Saracens at home in Europe already this season, Ulster cannot afford a repeat and Kiss has warned that the French side, who lie just a point off the summit of the Top 14, pose an "unpredictably" dangerous threat.

"One of the worries is that we do not know what sort of a team they are going to put out. To tell you the truth, when you look at players they have for the back-row they have a number of options around the edges," Kiss said.

"Their back three has also options. They will back themselves from everywhere which they do a lot in their games, but when you look at them in other games, they will also hang on to the ball.

"They are varying their game into a very adaptive beast at the moment and they can play either way. Their unpredictability is their biggest danger.

"So we will need to see their selection to see what style of game they want to play on Friday.

"Will they start with Toby Flood and get him to manage the game and then expose Luke McAllister later? They provide a real danger everywhere."

Defeat to Toulouse would almost certainly again curtail Ulster's Champions Cup involvement before Christmas and Kiss understands the stark reality that faces his side.

"They are in a position of strength. For us, we are a game down (Ulster's game against Oyonnax was postponed) so there's still probably not a true line through the group, but you would be stupid not to think that Saracens don't have an edge at the moment.

"Saracens are playing at Oyonnax, most of the good money is on them and they get the chance to jump away a little bit, but for us and Toulouse it's a vital game."

Irish Independent

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