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Gibbes happy to see players dig in and respond after tough week

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes praised his side's work throughout a difficult week that culminated in last night's nine-try win over Southern Kings.

Up against the PRO14's lowest-ranked side, the province bagged nine tries in what was their first game since former Director of Rugby Les Kiss departed Belfast.

With Gibbes now heading up the ticket having originally come in to work under the Australian, the one-time Leinster and Clermont coach was pleased by how the squad approached the week in Kiss' absence.

"It was a good reflection of how we trained and the effort the guys have put in, not only the 23 that played but our guys outside the 23 too," said the former All Black.

"We trained Thursday and Friday last week and the quality of the sessions has been really high, the energy was really high, and that's probably one of the challenges that's been laid down for the playing group.

"Are we able to bring a bit more energy and intensity in our work through to the game? I think that's the good thing about (this win), the scoreboard looks good but there was a hell of a lot of effort that went into getting that."

On injuries to Charles Piutau, Rob Lyttle and Sean Reidy, he added that further absences ahead of next week's big game with Edinburgh could stretch a squad already missing key men on Six Nations duty for Ireland.

"Injuries are always the concern when you lose three players like that," he said.

"The Six Nations period is always a bit tricky but if those three are deemed to be serious then we'll have to call up someone else into the squad and they'll have to step up.

"They'll be assessed when we can and we know that, having looked through the Edinburgh stuff this week, we need 100% fit guys for that game."

Edinburgh's five-try win over Leinster means that they remain just three points behind Ulster in the Conference B's final play-off spot ahead of next week's meeting.

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