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Les: I've learned from greats O'Driscoll, O'Connell

By Steven Beacom

Published 03/03/2016

Big idea: Ireland are experts in choke tackle, thanks to Kiss
Big idea: Ireland are experts in choke tackle, thanks to Kiss

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has revealed how lessons learnt from working with Ireland legends Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell will benefit him in the future.

In the second part of the Belfast Telegraph's exclusive interview with Kiss, he said it was a 'privilege' to coach O'Driscoll and O'Connell, who both captained the nation to famous triumphs.

The pair are now retired, but Kiss insists what they did for Irish rugby should never be forgotten.

"Without a doubt they are up there with the greats," he said.

"They were giants in their positions and quality people. Their impact on the group and generosity was incredible. They left a positive mark all the time. It was a privilege coaching them and I learnt a lot from them. You learn a lot from your best players and they certainly armed me well as a coach and it will serve me well going forward.

"I'm getting the same experience here at Ulster working with Rory (Best) and players like Paddy (Jackson) and Ruan (Pienaar)."

Kiss has been quite the teacher himself and is credited with inventing the 'choke tackle', which has become a key tool in rugby.

The 'choke tackle' is when two defenders hold up and wrap up an attacking player in a bid to squeeze the ball out. Under the guidance of Kiss, Ireland players became experts at executing the tactic.

Kiss says: "It's weird because it morphed into something when I was just trying to exploit rules. A lot of people have argued it is not new but in the past it wasn't used as a method or tool to change things.

"It certainly shaped a few things in a different way and how players carry the ball and tackle.

"It started at the Waratahs back home in Australia to a small degree and then the Irish team loved the concept and made it their own really.

"It was down to the players who bought into it and understood what it was."

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