Belfast Telegraph

Kiss not reaching for panic button on injuries just yet

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's new Director of Rugby Les Kiss is determined injuries won't scupper his maiden European campaign but has ruled out the possibility of bringing in emergency cover.

After meeting Newport Dragons in the PRO12 on Sunday, the province's Champions Cup season begins with a trip to Oyonnax next weekend as Saracens and Toulouse lie in wait.

Ulster failed to make the quarter-finals of Europe for the first time since 2010 last season having started the competition with the likes of Ruan Pienaar, Andrew Trimble and Iain Henderson on the sidelines. Although Tommy Bowe will miss at least this year's pool stages, Jared Payne and Henderson are racing to return for the December double-header with Toulouse and Louis Ludik is a doubt for the first pair of games, Kiss has backed the young players in the squad to fill the void.

"Not at this stage," he confirmed when asked if he would look to emulate Munster, who brought in Lucas Amorosino and Sean Doyle as cover last week.

"The thinking on Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne is that we have good cover in that area.

"We also want to try and back some younger guys as much as we can. At times we will have to go to that route and we will consult in the right way to make sure we get the solutions we need, but at this stage we are fairly happy where we are with things."

A quarter of the way through a run of 16 fixtures in succession, Kiss is aware that he must monitor the match sharpness of his key figures over the coming weeks.

"We obviously have the notable injuries that we have taken from the Rugby World Cup and they have had an impact," Kiss said.

"Talking with the medics, we are waiting on a couple of guys to be cleared, Louis Ludik for example.

"There are a certain number of players who have played a few games recently. How we balance that this week, into next week and over the next few weeks is very important.

"We need to ensure we keep the squad fresh as much as possible but obviously we want to put the team out that we know can do the job.

"Injuries can happen at any time and you have to deal with it and perhaps at this stage I am not as informed as I would like to be in that area.

"But by the end of this week I hope I can position myself with the teams we will put out, particularly in the European games, and the team we pick this weekend will hopefully have players like Rory Best and Ruan Pienaar back in."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph