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Les Kiss urging Ulster to prove they can shine on big stage against Leinster

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 16/05/2016

Standing tall: Les Kiss believes Ulster can forget about the past and show they can rise to the challenge in the PRO12 semi-final against Leinster
Standing tall: Les Kiss believes Ulster can forget about the past and show they can rise to the challenge in the PRO12 semi-final against Leinster

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss wants to see his side's poor record in the biggest games banished to the past when they meet Leinster at the RDS on Friday night.

No side has ever won an away PRO12 semi-final as the play-offs enter their seventh edition - with Ulster providing three of those failed efforts - and the reverse suffered at this stage last season against Glasgow in Scotstoun provides a particularly painful memory.

Kiss, however, thinks his side are ready to show they have moved on since that night 12 months ago.

"There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then," said Kiss. "To win away from home in a semi, it's something that hasn't been done.

"That makes it tougher, but the game (against Glasgow) from last year is history.

"The past is the past and the only things that come from it is the lessons you've learned."

The RDS may seem a little friendlier than in recent seasons with at least 5,000 Ulster fans expected to make the journey down the M1 for the game, but Kiss believes that the last-four pairing with their inter-provincial rivals is the toughest assignment they could have been handed.

Despite a European season to forget for Leo Cullen's men, they topped the regular season standings ahead of year-long surprise package Connacht and Kiss expects to see a wholly different outfit to the one beaten 30-6 in Belfast during the final regulation season weekend of April.

"Leinster down there is probably the hardest one you could get," said the Australian.

"They're just a tough beast down there and I'm very wary of what they can do.

"The last time we played them, we maybe poked an angry bear but they're awake now and they won't deliver what they did then.

"It was quite obvious, even by their own admission, that they weren't as good as they can be.

"We don't expect them to be anywhere near that; we think they'll be a completely different team."

While any loss at this stage of the campaign will be season-defining, Ulster have been in this position for the better part of six weeks with Kiss adding that he has done his best to ensure his players have responded positively to the pressure.

"Each win has been imperative and our season has been like this for a while now," added Kiss.

"I hope we've managed it in an energising way rather than a depleting way. That's what we're here for as a rugby team and as individuals.

"You aspire to win the big ones and we've had a lot of them in a row now. That's been a plus for us.

"One of the things that can happen is you get de-conditioned to what it is and what it means.

"In a way, even though it's one of the toughest, maybe it's ideal for us (to have Leinster) as it steels the mind.

"It's going to be massive to go to their patch and win."

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