Monday 26 February 2018

Kiss backs depowered pack to 'keep standing up'

Les Kiss (Sportsfile)
Les Kiss (Sportsfile)

Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's backline have grabbed plenty of headlines of late but Les Kiss' new-look pack will again have to step up in Saturday's pivotal Pro12 contest with Ospreys.

Sitting fourth in the table, Ulster travel to Swansea knowing they need to match the result of Scarlets, who play Munster in Thomond Park, to secure their place in the play-offs.

Injuries mean they will travel with a forward unit that is hardly first-choice but Kiss's decision to utilise the twin openside strategy deployed by the likes of Australia, Wales and Scotland in the past 12 months seemed to pay dividends in the thumping win over Leinster last Saturday.

With Iain Henderson at blindside, usual No 7s Chris Henry and Sean Reidy filled out the loose forward trio last weekend.

"We have not gone on about it but we have lost a lot of power in our forwards," said Kiss. "Nick Williams and Dan Tuohy are out for most of the year, Wiehahn Herbst too, but the pack keep standing up."

With Paddy Jackson pulling the strings brilliantly, Henry says the forwards want to ensure the No 10 has as many chances as possible to work with the ball.

"As a pack we realise that this backline is pretty lethal," said Henry. "We're very lucky to have a backline like it."

Ospreys, who have been without star forwards Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric, will also be missing wing Hanno Dirksen, who suffered a knee injury against Cardiff.

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