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Ireland coach Les Kiss happy in the back seat but his voice is still heard

By Conor George

It is refreshing to spend time in Les Kiss' company, for he is one of those rare professionals who is prepared to sacrifice personal career gains for the greater good of a secondary spot on a dynamic coaching ticket.

As Declan Kidney's assistant, Kiss was charged with running the day-to-day sessions. His was the voice the players heard most often as he took the pitch sessions.

His stock went up when he was appointed interim head coach for the summer tour at a time he was also interviewing for the post on a full-time basis before Joe Schmidt was confirmed. It cannot be easy to take a step back after hitting those heights, but that is exactly what Kiss has done in the Schmidt regime.

What's even more impressive is that he has done so with good grace. At the time of Schmidt's appointment, Kiss was one of the first to endorse it.

Kiss is an ambitious man and he wasn't short of suitors when Kidney's coaching team was dismantled. He had head coaching offers from both rugby union and league and could have written his own ticket.

The lure of continuing his work with Ireland and working closely with Schmidt was too exciting an opportunity to pass up.

The transition has been seamless – "we're very clear on a day-to-day basis of who is imparting what messages and when" – although he is expecting a little more intensity in their conversations when it comes to team selection meetings.

"Certainly I expect discussions will heat up when we start to discuss possible team selections over the coming days. That's also a very exciting part of the dynamic."

The vibrancy of the group is helped by the willingness of the coaches to let each other have a clear hand when focusing on their speciality. Yesterday, for example, was more attack-focused so Schmidt took centre stage.

Today, Kiss will be calling the shots as the emphasis moves to defence – "I'll be the one losing my voice" – while John Plumtree spent the early part of the week putting the forwards through their paces with set-piece work.

The impressive operation is run by Schmidt but it is obvious there is a synergy there that can only bode well. Ireland needs a good November series. Not only is it important for the coaches to see an immediate return on their efforts, you sense the players need to record some credible victories to help erase the memory of last season's disappointing Six Nations.

"It's an exciting challenge, if a little scary," said Kiss. "Samoa are an excellent side, Australia are improving all the time with Cooper and Genia playing some great stuff and the All Blacks are sensational," he added.

"We are hopeful of providing the players with the confidence to be able to properly express themselves. They are tough games and it's an exciting time."

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