Kiss already planning an Ulster assault on PRO12 next season

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss
Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss

Director of rugby Les Kiss said he is already looking forward to getting into the pre-season as Ulster look to put behind them the disappointment of another Guinness PRO12 semi-final defeat.

Coupled with missing out on the last eight in Europe by one try, Kiss knows Ulster remain in a good place.

The disappointment of losing a third semi-final has been hard to take.

Kiss came into his role in November and he is keen to have time to prepare over the summer for when the players return for pre-season.

““It is probably weird, but I am already looking forward to the off season and getting my teeth into it from the start.

“It has been a little bit tough to come in a third of the way this season as I did.

“Guys looking at how I wanted to do things, a bit of change management but I cannot fault the group to a man including the staff who worked hard to make sure we can build something.

“Yes we fell short for sure, we are disappointed. We did not quite deliver what we would have liked to, but I have to take my hat off to what Leinster delivered.

“We were not good enough to hold it back at times.

“We did not get the types of movement in our game that we usually do that would stretch a side.

“We needed to do more and we did not.”

“Our roster will be undoubtedly stronger next year with the new players coming in, some young and also strong foreign talent,” Kiss added.

“You need a blend of both. We will be stronger next year and we will be even stronger the year after that. It’s not built overnight.

“We’ve a good Academy system and we’re working hard to make sure we can improve that and bring them through.

“We’ll see some guys step up to the plate next season because we need to broaden and deepen.

“You need the capacity to build that through financial resources and good coaching. Hopefully we are putting together a programme to deliver that.”

An away semi-finalist is yet to progress to the Guinness PRO12 final after two more home wins for Leinster and Connacht at the weekend.

Kiss was quick to look at the bigger picture where lost bonus points meant the side had to travel to the RDS rather than welcoming opposition to the Kingspan at the semi-final stage.

“Not beating Munster, not getting points from one or two games, that was critical,” he added.

“It refers back to that mental attitude of not allowing games to slip away.

“Even if you’ve lost them, Cardiff was a big one. If we had got just one more point out of that, it would have made a difference. Get another point somewhere else, it makes a difference.”

p Leinster head to BT Murrayfield for the Guinness PRO12 final against Connacht chasing their third title in the last four years.

But club veteran Jamie Heaslip remembers a time when the club struggled on the big occasion - they lost three of their first four finals when the format was first introduced in 2010.

The No.8 is desperate to remind his side they must continue the hard work that saw them down Ulster in the semi-finals if they are to have a chance in the Scottish capital against Connacht.

“A final, semi-final, it’s knockout rugby. You’ve been watching it long enough. It’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes on the day that generally wins,” said Heaslip.

Jonathan Sexton had some harsh words for the Leinster squad after they were beaten 30-6 by Ulster near the end of the regular season. But they turned on the style at the RDS last weekend to gain revenge and Heaslip knows that there is more to come from his side if they are to claim silverware at the end of the season. “Johnny is a very emotional man,” he added. “He wears his heart on his sleeve. And he says what he feels. “I’ve been playing this game long enough. You shouldn’t get carried away with the losses, or the wins. You can’t go extreme. You need to waver somewhere in the middle and keep learning I suppose, keep evolving. That’s what we’re trying to do. “Success just doesn’t happen. You gotta work at it, day in, day out. You gotta live it. You basically got to commit to the professional life of a rugby player. “I know there’s a lot of lovely things that come with it. But there’s a lot of stuff that comes with it which nobody sees. A lot of sacrifice, a lot of understanding from family and friends. Some lads just needed to see that.”