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Kiss: There Are More Surprises To Come In Six Nations

Kiss: There Are More Surprises To Come In Six Nations

Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss insists England represent a ‘scary’ threat to the defending RBS 6 Nations ahead of Sunday week’s encounter at the Aviva Stadium.

After victories over Italy and France, Joe Schmidt’s men set up a table-topping clash with England at the midpoint of the 2015 Championship.

The English held Wales scoreless in the second half of their RBS 6 Nations opener to leave the Milleniuum Stadium with the spoils before racking up 47 points on the Italians last weekend. One of the standout players so far for England has been centre Jonathon Joseph, but Les Kiss believes they have got immense quality throughout their squad.

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“Our preparation starts with the analysis and that’s been pretty scary with what they (England) can do. If you look at that scary relationship in midfield with George Ford, and he has a relationship already with (Anthony) Watson and Joseph (from playing together at Bath), those types of combinations seem to be coming through for them nicely,” said Kiss.

“I think also their back row has been brilliant, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola are big threats, and Chris Robshaw is excellent. The momentum that they give them is critical for them, and they can take the ball deep and still make yards.”

Kiss knows that one of the aspects that they must enforce is putting the English runners to the deck early and to make England make decisions in attack. The return of Danny Cipriani last week, scoring a try less than a minute after his introduction against Italy, also shows the depth of attacking talent in Stuart Lancaster’s squad.

But Ireland saw the return of their own star man in Jonathan Sexton. Having come through a ferocious battle against the French, the Racing Metro 92 out-half is back with his club this weekend before returning to Ireland afterwards. Kiss insists that rather than Sexton’s absence from camp being a negative, it gives the coaches the chance to work more with Ian Madigan.

“Johnny’s a pro, and he’ll get back and get in front of things in terms of the computers when he gets back. He’ll get in front of the vision and he’ll get to chat with the guys and will get in front of things really early (next week).

“Rather than being a glass half-empty, it’s a glass half-full situation because Joe gets a chance to work with Ian Madigan in this case for training this week. So he can build that a little bit more, so there is a silver lining to it as well. The fact that Johnny’s not here, that’s just a reality and it’s an opportunity for Joe to work with ‘Mads’ a bit more.”

Ireland have only scored two tries so far in the Championship, however Kiss insists there is a lot more to come from the back-line. And with selection so fierce in the backs, some players have been released back to their provinces to get game-time. Kiss is hoping that those players return fit and that they can put their hands up for inclusion in an Irish back-line that is constantly evolving.

“I think we’re evolving. I don’t think we pretend to be complete. We know that there are a variety of ways to look at the game, analyse it and pick out what works best,” added the Australian.

“We have a strong work ethos in the team – it’s the bedrock of what we’re about – and with the type of tournament it is, it’s not going to be over until the last game, no matter what happens in the next match.

“There are more surprises to come, Scotland have more to come, the French can be dangerous still, and Wales will keep coming. I don’t think the result in the next fortnight will determine the tournament at all.”

RBS 6 Nations newcomer Robbie Henshaw has played the first two games of the Championship at centre alongside Jared Payne and Kiss believes the 21-year-old is showing experience far beyond his years in such an important position.

“Robbie has done a fantastic job working from that 12 channel. He hits nice shoulders, he does question defences in terms of staying square. He’s worked with Sexton now, and he’s done that a few times before.

“He’s worked with Mads there too. So he’s building the combinations around him. I think he’s making good steps, you know that he can fill that 12 channel, he can fill the 13 channel too and he can play at 15, so he’s handy in all respects really.”