Since arriving as Ireland defence coach back in 2008, Les Kiss has seen some significant changes with Ireland going from a Grand Slam in his first season to their lowest world ranking of ninth earlier this year.
After guiding Ireland through their summer tour of North America, the next challenge for Les Kiss is as assistant to Joe Schmidt as the new Ireland head coach’s tenure begins against three sides ranked above them in the IRB World Rankings.
Looking forward to the November clashes with Samoa, his native Australia and New Zealand, Kiss said: “This GUINNESS Series is tough. When you look at it you wonder who put that together!
“Samoa first up will be super hard. We are a game they are going to target and obviously the Wallabies and All Blacks in the middle and back end. I’m a little bit like Joe. I focus on the here and now, what we do now is the most important thing.
“If I look forward, the first 40 minutes against Samoa is a big thing I am focusing on at the moment and making sure that the things we are putting together can get that done.
“If we look too far ahead and imagine what is possible later on, take your eye off the ball, you are going to be nowhere. That first 40 minutes against Samoa is what I’m focused on.”
Kiss believes it is Schmidt’s open mind and strong beliefs that will benefit Ireland, as he dismisses any thought of disappointment over having to hand back the reins after taking charge of Ireland’s tour of the USA and Canada.
Speaking about his excitement in working with Schmidt and new Ireland forwards coach John Plumtree, the 48-year-old added: “Not at all (on whether there is any disappointment). That process was fairly transparent. It was fairly obvious with the whole process what was going to happen.
“I had a brief at the time and I was happy to do that, step up to that and knowing Joe (Schmidt) for three, four, five years now…we’ve worked together in some fashion before, so there are no issues at all and I am really happy with the role I’m doing.”
Kiss explained: “We met John some weeks ago amid the process of interviewing and he impressed us then. He’s got a good track record with some real handy players – Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar up in Ulster.
“We all believe in the way the game should be played, very tight and close, but we are willing to explore ideas.”
Despite the season being only a few matches old, there has already been speculation linking some Irish players with moves to French clubs. Kiss believes all he and the rest of the Irish coaches can do is set a platform for the players to want to remain in Ireland.
“I think what we’ve got to do as coaches, particularly myself and John (Plumtree), is to ensure that we’re providing something that makes them want to stay in terms of our experience, the way we coach, the way we engage with the players.
“We go out there, try and get around to the provinces, go to training sessions, get to games, create these conversations with the guys and knowing if you are in Ireland, you have a better chance of putting the green jersey on.
“That’s as far as I can influence things, that they want to stay here and be actively involved in the type of coaching structure we do have.”