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Pressure Comes With The Territory – Kiss

Pressure Comes With The Territory – Kiss

Assistant coach Les Kiss insists that there is always pressure involved as Ireland prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations finale against Scotland.

Ireland are level with England and Wales at the top of the Championship table, as an extremely tight title race goes down to the final day. Their round 5 opponents, Scotland, are facing their own battle as they bid to avoid the dreaded Wooden Spoon.

Speaking in Edinburgh on the eve of the game, Les Kiss said: “When you play Test rugby, pressure exists as a reality. Scotland’s story is different to ours and they’ll have their reasons to want to avoid that situation. We’ve been as hard on ourselves as we have when we won 10 (games) in a row.

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“We just want to make sure that we keep to the script in terms of approaching our preparation in a way that makes sure we can build on each performance. With that comes our own pressure from ourselves to be as good as we can.

“That’s in our training, in our down time and when the ball is kicked off tomorrow. So I wouldn’t try to speculate on their pressure. This is a Test match and it’s a difficult proposition. I’ve been here enough times to know that they’re tight affairs, especially over here (at Murrayfield).”

Having coached the Clermont Auvergne backs under current Scotland head coach Vern Cotter, Joe Schmidt knows exactly how his fellow New Zealander operates. Leinster have also had their battles with Cotter’s Clermont over the years, but Kiss said the coaches’ knowledge of each other has been spoken about in the build-up. After all, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors played against Schmidt’s Leinster side in the PRO12 for the three years of his provincial tenure.

“Perhaps from the outside, but it’s certainly not something that’s been raised high-profile internally. One of the things that have come through is that a lot of guys have played against a Vern Cotter team and you’d imagine a lot of the Scottish guys have played against a Joe Schmidt team. So there’s certainly some interesting factors around that but it hasn’t been at the forefront of any conversations, that’s for sure,” insisted the Irish assistant coach.

Two years ago, this equivalent game was very tight with neither side afforded much room in attack. Four Greig Laidlaw penalties were enough for a 12-8 home victory back then. However, should Scotland throw off the shackles and play an open style this weekend, Kiss feels they have some quality backs who could trouble Ireland.

“There’s some really positive things that Scotland have put forward in their game since Vern has come on board. They can work well from set piece without a doubt, they can launch effective attack platforms from those areas. But in the loose they are dangerous without a doubt, when you’ve got (Stuart) Hogg at the back who can do some damage and (Tommy) Seymour is in really sublime form.

“Finn Russell was a loss for them mid-Championship and he’s a really good marshal of their game. And despite the fact that he does organise the team well he’s also got this instinct about him as well to play loose. So they are dangerous, and you don’t want to give them space because if you do they can hurt you, massively.”

As the final Captain’s Run of this year’s RBS 6 Nations came to a close, the Ireland players took control, playing a game of touch rugby at walking pace that sparked much laughter. The changes from Captain’s Run to Captain’s Run see Paul O’Connell reacting to what he feels is needed. With final preparations done and conditions looking perfect for kick-off, it might lend to some open rugby.

“Each campaign, usually this part of the week, it’s the boys taking over, Paul taking the team. Each one you approach differently, Paul. You managed that last one a little bit differently!,” joked Kiss, sitting alongside the Ireland captain at the press conference.

“It is certainly a call on their behalf to say this is what we need at this stage. Sometimes it is more physical and sometimes it is more mental. It is good to get out there in Murrayfield. You can see the changes they have made to the pitch. It is a really good pitch now and the conditions look like they will be superb.”