The Irish Rugby Football Union has announced the appointment of Les Kiss, formerly of the New South Wales Waratahs, as the new Ireland defence coach.
Les Kiss, a former Australian Kangaroos rugby league winger and a member of the undefeated 1986 Australian Kangaroos team that toured Great Britain and France, has made a successful transition to rugby union coaching since 2001 when he was recruited by South Africa as defence coach.
In the 2001 Tri Nations championship, the Springboks had easily the best defensive record with the least tries (11) and the least points conceded.
The following year Kiss was given the opportunity to further expand his experience with three South African Super 12 teams – the Stormers, Cats and Bulls.
He also provided assistance to a number of Currie Cup teams. He returned to Australia in 2003, joining up with the NSW Waratahs, providing expertise in defence and video analysis.
His association with the NSW Waratahs developed further after that, leading to assistant coach roles specialising in defence and backs strategy.
Kiss was also appointed assistant coach of Australia ‘A’ from 2003 to 2007, assistant coach of the Australian Under-21 team in 2003 and head coach for the NSW Waratahs development tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2006.
He has also had coaching experience in Japan, assisting IBM in 2003 and this year (2008).
During his six seasons with the NSW Waratahs, the team consistently had the best defensive record in the Super 14 competition – a key factor in the Sydney-based team reaching the finals in 2005 and 2008 and semi-final in 2006.
Kiss played 100 first grade games for the North Sydney Bears from 1986 to 1993 in the NRL competition in Australia.
He also played four State of Origin matches for Queensland and held coaching positions with the North Sydney Bears before moving to the United Kingdom as head coach of the London Broncos (now London Harlequins).
His appointment by the IRFU follows the recent capture of Gert Smal as the Ireland forwards coach as the senior management team under head coach Declan Kidney continues to take shape.
Commenting on the announcement, Kidney said: “This is another key appointment for the new coaching team and again we are delighted to have secured someone with Les’ experience and top level coaching credentials.
“He brings with him a fresh outlook and coaching ideas from both codes and I am sure he will add a new dimension to the defence aspect of the team.”
Kiss admitted: “The opportunity to work with Ireland and to be involved at the international level of the game held great attraction for me.
“I am looking forward to working with Declan Kidney and his group and learning about and contributing to the overall structure. There is an exciting challenge ahead for us over the next few years in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011.”