Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Kiss confirms title bid lifted by clean bill of health

Praise: Sean Cronin has been left impressed by boss Joe Schmidt

The sun was shining – both literally and figuratively – on Ireland yesterday in the tranquility of their Co Kildare retreat.

Clear blue skies, warm air, hardly a breeze and, vitally, a clean bill of health.

"Yeah, everyone is on deck, which is a real plus, a real bonus for us," defence coach Less Kiss confirmed.

The contrast between the situation now and 12 months ago could not be more marked. Going into the final Six Nations match in 2013, then-coach Declan Kidney was struggling to find 23 players.

"Worlds apart, yeah," Kiss mused. "It's interesting. When those things happen you have to deal with what's in front of you –clichéd, I know. But fair play to the medics, Jason (Cowman) our S&C guy, with the GPS diary and all that and managing loads.

"We are in a pretty good place, I must say."

A year ago, Ireland finished fifth. Now victory in the final match will earn them the title.

"It's certainly a lot more enjoyable being in this position at the end of the tournament with one game to play," Kiss said.

"There is a real competitiveness in the group. Everyone knows this is a very important campaign for us, with a nice edge but also a nice not over-confidence, but confidence. We are doing the right stuff and hopefully we can deliver it on the weekend."

With head coach Joe Schmidt's emphasis on the importance of the bench, replacement hooker Sean Cronin knows he can expect to play a part in Paris.

Explaining the role of the replacements, he said: "It's not really that different, I think more it's just hammered home that we're the closers or the finishers.

"That's something that Joe's brought in and it's good to have a rapport like that with the coach, that he's putting faith in you.

"He's hammering it home during the week that we're the guys that could make the difference if the game is close.

"That's reassuring for us and it's a huge positive that Joe has brought to the fold."

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