GUINNESS PRO12: Chris henry backing Les Kiss to deliver at Ulster

Chris Henry
Chris Henry

All Chris Henry’s 24 Ireland caps have come with Les Kiss as defence coach of the national team and the flanker is looking forward to teaming up working with the Australian on a daily basis having take up the position as Ulster’s Director of Rugby.

“I expect Les to bring a real driven focus and he knows exactly how he wants the team to play and he knows what he demands of players,” said Henry.

“It is really exciting to have him back and involved full time here.

“At the world cup we couldn’t talk about the Ulster side of things but this week you can tell he has brought a level of excitement.

“He has a defensive background but he is looking to bring other aspects of the game as well and with the other coaching staff we have already in place and with his influence we have a package in place that is definitely moving in the right direction.”

Kiss introduced the choke tackle to rugby union in 2011 and Henry has become an expert exponent of it.

“The game has evolved and Les was the man that first came up with the choke tackle and he was also the one who realised if you do it too much a lot of times it goes against you.

“If you don’t do it perfectly then teams are able to get a lot of momentum and steal an extra three or four yards. It’s about players making the right decisions.

“I don’t think Les will be a coach that says we’re definitely not doing the choke tackle but I think you can see in his game and the way Ireland moved forward we had to move to a chop focus as well and I think it will be very much dependent on who we play and how we want to defend.

“All of teams in this league stick to the same structures and play the same patterns and it’s the same with defence as well. Les will tweak a few things but I don’t think it’s about reinventing the wheel.”

Henry feels the role of the open side flanker has evolved in the modern game.

“Every side is going to have a different balance to their team but there is no doubt Australia with their two sevens in the back row was a real weapon for them.

“I think now players from 1-15 if they know what to do at the break down make the right decision and ultimately get on the ball at the right times it does change the game.

“With Ulster and Ireland I think we have those players, Brian O’Driscoll was unbelievable at it and Jared (Payne) is good as well, it’s just not the number seven now, you need players throughout the team making those go decisions.

“For me it’s something I enjoy when you come off the pitch and you know you’re battered and bruised but you’ve done a good job at the breakdown both going forward and defensively it is a great feeling but you are always learning this game.”

Henry went from his career being in jeopardy last November to starting for Ireland in a world cup quarter final.

“To be picked in the 31 when you look at the quality of the players that was my goal to get back try and get in the mix and get on the plane.

“To be thrown in a start was an amazing feeling and obviously it world have been much better had we got the result.

“If you look back the highlight for me was coming off the bench in the French game.

“It was fantastic to finish that game as there were so must pressure on it, probably next summer I’ll sit back and think there were some unbelievable times and memories.

“You invest four months starting from pre season into one tournament and then it is just taken away from you so quickly.

“For me how it finished was just a sad thing and with the major injuries we just wanted to get the win and make history for those players.

“Unfortunately it was probably one game too much for us.”

Henry went from starting against Argentina to making his Ulster come back off the bench at a half empty Thomond Park in a 32-28 loss to Munster.

“It’s so different but the nerves are still the same, being on the bench is a horrible feeling. You’re trying to manage all your emotions and trying not to lose too much energy off the bench.

“I think no matter what shirt you put on when you stop getting that nervous energy that’s when you’ll fall short. Luckily for me I still get nervous when I put on an Ulster shirt and I’m delighted to be back in amongst the team.”