The arrival of Les Kiss as Ulster’s new director of rugby was over a year in the waiting but it was something everyone involved in the organisation wanted.
The Australian had previously been with South Africa and has just finished seven-and-a-half years with Ireland as assistant coach.
Ireland’s most capped hooker and Ulster skipper, Rory Best, has spent a lot of time with Kiss and he now believes everyone in Ulster will feel the benefits of a coach he regards as one of the best defence coaches in the world.
“It’s great to have him here. You look at the coaching set-up, we have some really, really good coaches who have played here, grown up here and know what playing for Ulster should be about,” said Best.
“After that now we have a little bit of experience with Les and Joe (Barakat) from the other side of the world and from international rugby as well.
“It’s a good mix. Les coming in, it’s just going to gel it together.
“First and foremost he’ll organise everything. You talk about the work ethic, and everything coming from the top down, you’ll certainly not be able to fault the hours that he puts in and he’ll expect the coaches to do the same.
“He’ll reward those that do it and he’ll expect those that don’t to up their game. For that, he’s brilliant.
“In the first meeting, he pointed out players that had made mistakes. Today he was asking us what had we done between the end of training yesterday and the start of training today, just putting a bit of pressure on us to get up to the standards he expects which, ultimately, are international standards.
“If you can get somewhere near that as a club side, you’re going to be there or thereabouts. You saw it at Leinster under Joe (Schmidt) as well.
“He’s put emphasis on us but also the coaches. He’ll say ‘there’s your 20 minute warm-up’ and it’s not 22 minutes. They have to be precise, and concise, in what they’re saying.
“The flip side is, when they get that right, it’s up to us to make sure we get it right and execute it.
“It won’t be two, two and a half hours out on the pitch, it’ll be 70 or 80 minutes but for that time, we’ll not be walking between things.”
It is almost like a school teacher- pupil situation then?
“Absolutely. He’ll not accept anyone cutting any corners. I’ve a wife who is a teacher and that’s exactly what it’s like.
“He expects a certain level and if you get to that and produce on the pitch ultimately he’ll make you a better player.
“If everyone becomes a slightly better player then it makes us a better team.
“He phoned me after the Glasgow game at the end of last season and said ‘look, I think we’re close, it’s just small little tweaks here and there.’
“If you can get a couple of percent more out of each player, and put that to 15 or 23 or 40 guys, that’s a lot of percent.”
“Doakie coming into a difficult situation and taking us to the cusp of a final. He knows that, and respects that; he won’t come in say ‘that was great but we’re doing this now’. It’s all about evolving.