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Ulster turn to defence guru

Guinness PRO12 Editor

12 Jan 2010

Ulster have been given a helping hand by Ireland’s Grand Slam winning defence coach Les Kiss as they prepare for Friday’s Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh.

The 1999 European Champions currently sit second in Pool 4, level on points with this weekend’s opponents, after two wins and two defeats in their opening four fixtures.

A third successive home victory in this year’s tournament would give Ulster a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time in 11 years.

But Kiss, who worked with the Ulster squad on Monday, knows Ulster will have to stop fellow Magners League outfit Edinburgh at source if they want to travel to Bath next week with everything still to play for.

"We worked on some basics really, in terms of what Edinburgh are going to throw at us," said Kiss.

"Edinburgh have been a good team this year with ball in hand. They like to play with a bit of width in their game and they have some tricky players in the No 9/No 10 area.

“We were covering a few of the basics on what we are trying to achieve defensively.” 

Ulster haven’t played since January 2 after the adverse weather meant last Friday’s home tie with the Ospreys in the Magners League had to be postponed.

But rather than acting as a negative influence on the Ulster squad prior to their must-win tie, Kiss believes the lack of rugby has had a positive effect, although he warned that it is the quality of performance on Friday, not on Monday, that will decide their European fate.

"The session was good,” added Kiss.

“When the guys don’t play a lot of games and they are missing their opportunities on the park, there is always a sense of anticipation and hunger there, and it came out in the blokes. 

"They haven’t had a game under their belt, so there was a nice bit of energy, but the key here is it doesn’t matter what happens in training as much as what happens on game day."