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Ulster v Connacht Coaches share load after Barakat's departure from Kingspan

Full Time: Ulster 23 - 7 Connacht

By Jonathan Bradley

The clash with Connacht tonight is Ulster's first game since the departure of assistant coach Joe Barakat with the staff saying they will now share his workload.

The native Australian, who arrived in Belfast during the summer of 2015, returned home this week and will take up a role with Western Force when the 2017 Super Rugby campaign begins in February.

Ahead of Connacht's visit, Rory Best revealed Barakat's mid-season departure has allowed boss Les Kiss, a defensive specialist to both Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt during his time with Ireland, to take on more of his compatriot's previous duties.

"Obviously there's been a little crossover with Joe leaving, and Les stepping more into that role, it's just about getting clarity for us now," he said after the side shipped five tries against Clermont last time out.

"When you look at the tries Clermont scored, apart from the first one, I kind of felt we either gave it to them easily or we didn't get at them at all.

"I know it doesn't seem like much but the more phases they went through at times, the stronger I felt we were which is encouraging.

"It's not encouraging to concede five tries, but we've one of the best defence coaches around working with us solely now."

Kiss confirmed that the current arrangement will stay in place at least until the summer.

"Over a period of four, five, six weeks, we have moved things slowly but surely," he said of Barakat's workload.

"Between the coaches, we share some duties there, and in terms of the workload, there is no real way around trying to lessen it.

"We will all pitch in. There will be no replacement this season.

"There will be some assessment on it but at this stage we are not going to do anything until the end of this season.

"There is a lot of stuff that I can do and lots both (other assistant) coaches can do in terms of covering the areas that Joe did.

"Over the last four to six weeks we have sort of shuffled things and it has become less relevant as it has gone on."

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