RUGBY: It is about the team not me says Ulster boss Les Kiss

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss
Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss

Ulster director of rugby, Les Kiss, is aware there has been some criticism levelled at him on different media platforms but he says he is not being sucked into it.

Last week’s record 44-16 loss in Galway to Connacht led to a lot of Ulster fans venting their anger on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and some claiming it was time for Kiss to go.

Some media outlets speculated that the Ulster director may not see his contract out - although there was nothing substantive to back the claim up.

The loss to Connacht was Ulster’s third Guinness PRO14 defeat this season from 11 games and their fourth loss of the season, having gone down away to Pool One leaders La Rochelle in the European Champions Cup.

Having defeated Harlequins back-to-back in Europe - picking up nine match points to reignite their European campaign - Ulster flopped in dramatic fashion away to Connacht.

Between injuries, player rotation and national player welfare management, Ulster went to Connacht with an understrength side which showed eight changes from that which had beaten Harlequins 52-24 the previous weekend.

Ulster now face Munster on New Year’s Day in Belfast before taking on Leinster in Dublin on Saturday, January 6.

Kiss revealed yesterday that Irish internationals Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale would be rested for the visit of Munster.

That again sparked debate about the selections for the teams over the festive period - although it has been normal for many years to see different sides take to the field for the home and away games.

Explaining that, Kiss said: “The intention wasn’t to have a slightly weaker side (against Connacht), by virtue of what happened last weekend.

“We have to balance what the load on the player and we made a decision that we would rest these players this week and rest those players then and try to balance it.

“And then you get the odd things that happen; the odd injury and then two sicknesses. “Then you have put people away, they have made their plans, they are going away for a week, you can’t suddenly pull them back in.

“You can’t control those things, if I am Harry Hindsight then I could. But you are not. You just have to make the decision and live with it.

“We didn’t turn up. I am not making excuses for that, everyone can have an opinion, that’s fine.”

In terms of feeling the pressure Kiss said: “That noise is out there. It’s been out there for a while and I understand it.

“We always feel pressure. It’s not something you escape. It’s something like a weird nature in us as beasts, something you revel in as well, you want to be able to stand up to and feel and fight against.

“But ultimately it isn’t about me. It is about the team and my job along with the coaches is to get it together and crystallise what this means to us this week and do the job on Monday. That’s been my focus.

“Everyone can have an opinion again I want it to be away from what I’m about and I know there are things that have been mentioned or said or whatever.

“There is criticism that’s fine but my job is to not to be sucked into that vortex, my job is to stay on this and I believe what we’re doing is the right thing and we’ve got to respond on Monday,” added Kiss.

Ulster and Munster will name their matchday squads laster today