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Kiss's exit as Ulster Rugby coach no surprise says Best


Best man: Ireland skipper Rory Best during yesterday’s Captain’s Run in Paris
Best man: Ireland skipper Rory Best during yesterday’s Captain’s Run in Paris
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster and Ireland skipper Rory Best believes recent results and performances made it inevitable that Director of Rugby Les Kiss would lose his job, but said the players had to take their share of the blame.

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Kiss and Ulster parted ways on Wednesday night after the Australian failed to bring the province any closer to winning some elusive silverware in his two and a half years in the job.

Jono Gibbes will be heading the coaching ticket when the PRO14 resumes next week.

Speaking after taking Ireland through their captain's run ahead of today's Six Nations opener versus France (with a 4.45pm kick-off), Best said: "Unfortunately with the way results and performances and pressures have gone, it sort of over the last little bit had an air of inevitability to it.

"I think it's disappointing. I've known Les a long time and he's a very good coach, but whatever happened at Ulster, it just didn't click."

Best, who was Kiss' captain in two of his three seasons having previously worked together with Ireland for a lengthy period, added: "Les will be missed, he's a great guy."

Ultimately, Kiss' tenure will be one that promised much but delivered little.

In his two full seasons, the Kingspan Stadium outfit managed to make just one PRO12 semi-final, while he oversaw three pool stage exits in Europe.

It was the most recent of those, with a heavy defeat to Wasps in Coventry, that eventually signalled the end of his time in Belfast.

Best, though, stressed that there was plenty of blame to go around and that players must redress a slipping of standards he says would not be tolerated in Ireland camps.

"There's no doubt that as a player group we have to take responsibility and put our hands up," he said.

"I definitely feel that, maybe not all the time, but at certain times of his tenure, as players we let him down. We let slip things that I know wouldn't stand down here (with Ireland) as a player group.

"But unfortunately when things don't work, it's a lot harder to sack the players than sack the coach and that's unfortunately the way it is."

Although there figures to be plenty of change on that front too.

Stalwart and star Tommy Bowe has already announced that he will retire at the end of the season and fellow long-time servant Darren Cave has already spoken of how he has yet to be offered a new deal.

Prop Callum Black, himself with over 150 Ulster appearances to his name, is expected to leave this summer while none of Ulster's centrally contracted players have as yet announced an inking of fresh terms.

Centre Jared Payne hasn't played since the Lions tour to New Zealand last summer and is on an expiring deal. Best himself said he expected his contract sorted by the Six Nations but that has not come to pass and Iain Henderson is another who is still waiting to confirm he'll be in Ulster colours next year.

Belfast Telegraph


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