Les Kiss on the "negative impact" a downturn for the provinces would have for Ireland in the long run

Ulster director of rugby and ex-Ireland defence coach speaks to Off The Ball

Les Kiss on the "negative impact" a downturn for the provinces would have for Ireland in the long run

Director of Rugby Les Kiss ©INPHO/Presseye/Brian Little

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss says that the prospect of the Irish provinces fading from prominence at the highest level would have a knock-on effect on the international team.

The former Ireland defence coach was speaking to Off The Ball tonight as Ulster prepares to face Leicester Tigers in a Champions Cup scene which is likely to see more dominance by the wealthy French and England clubs to the detriment of the provinces.

"It is an extremely competitive market place and increasingly so. You have to be cognisant of that. We have to have the wisdom to understand how that's going to have an impact in the future and we can't put our head in the sand. But I think there's enough good people in Ireland to make sure we understand that we come up with a plan that ensures that we do protect the interests of the provinces at the right level," he said.

"It would be a shame if they did fall by the wayside in a strong way because I think that will have a negative impact on the national team eventually." 

Kiss is grappling with an injury crisis with Iain Henderson facing a lengthy spell out for province and country, while Tommy Bowe is also missing for the next few months.

"It's never nice to have that type of injury profile thrown at you in one night. We also have lost Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne and Stuart Olding isn't back. So it's a fairly hefty injury toll," he said, before looking at things from a brighter side.

"One of the blessings of the game, if there is a blessing other than the win, is the fact that we could address that during the game, so people have to stand up during the game and rather early in the game when you lose Henderson and co. So not nice but in the end, we feel for those guys and we'll service them in the best way possible and get them right. But we've got to move on to who's coming out onto the pitch and do what's necessary to make sure that we can deliver against a pretty potent team coming up this weekend."  

Kiss also reflected on the lessons from Ireland's Rugby World Cup defeat which you can listen to on the podcast.