Monday 23 October 2017

Les Kiss excited by potential of Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey's midfield axis

Ulster's director of rugby Les Kiss
Ulster's director of rugby Les Kiss
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

In the immediate aftermath of Ulster's incredible win over Toulouse last Friday night, it seemed unfair to single out individuals from what was an outstanding collective effort but the centre partnership of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall was one that pleased Les Kiss immensely.

Marshall in particular is a player who has excited since he broke onto the scene five years ago but repeated injuries, in particular concussion, have curtailed his progress.

The 24-year-old linked brilliantly with McCloskey and the pair appear to have the kind of understanding that Kiss believes will continue to blossom.

"You'd have to say that Luke at 13 was superb," Kiss enthused.

"His carrying in the contact work, some of his defence against (Gael) Fickou and what they can do on the edge was great.

"Stu (McCloskey) is growing each game and is learning to be a more complete player with and without the ball.

Brutal

"We're seeing the good clues in our game. We were honest and brutal about where we let ourselves down.

"We knew that, that performance was sitting there on the edges and we threw patches of it out in recent weeks."

It takes a lot to fluster Kiss and there was no sense of panic even when Saracens embarrassed Ulster at home last month and, as they travel to Toulouse on Sunday, there is a renewed sense of belief up north.

"We know this week will be a different story and we have to make sure that we are geared up for that," Kiss said.

"I can only expect a massive backlash from them. We probably hurt them and they'll be wounded and come out fighting.

"My belief before the (Toulouse) game was that we were only one game into it. It wasn't a really true form line in the pool.

"I do think Saracens are still in the box seat. It's what we back it up with that's important. It (last week's result) will have certainly made people stand up and say that there's something possible there.

"For us, we can live in that world and pat ourselves on the back until Sunday and then miss the boat. We know that they will come back at us.

"We've already spoken about what it takes to win over there. It's a difficult place to go and they have a great home record so we need to be in a good place to make it matter."

Irish Independent

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