Aussie Les gives London Irish kiss of life

by AFP

Former Waratahs defensive guru, Les Kiss, who left Irish heavyweight Ulster earlier this year has joined the coaching set-up of English Premiership strugglers London Irish.

Kiss, a former rugby league international and NRL star here in Australia, will work with former Ireland coach Declan Kidney at the Exiles as they try to turn the struggling club around.

Kiss will take over as head coach while Kidney, who won a Grand Slam with Ireland in 2009, has been appointed technical director, succeeding South Africa's Brendan Venter who leaves the club.

The pair have signed three-year contracts, which will remain in place regardless, as seems likely, if the club are relegated from English rugby's top flight at the end of the season, with the duo working alongside director of rugby Nick Kennedy.

"Declan is a great person to work with, and I'm looking forward to joining him at London Irish," said Kiss.

"It is a big job for us, but one we are relishing."

Kiss was in Australia in February meeting with his manager and scoping out opportunities down under but the London Irish job was too attractive to knock back.

Kidney said: "I'm under no illusions that this is going to be a challenging job.

"English club rugby is very competitive, and it is going to take several years for us to cement a place at the top end of the Aviva Premiership, but I believe that with the right structures this becomes a realistic ambition for us.

"I'm particularly excited to be working with Les Kiss again. We had a great relationship with the Ireland national team and I know that he is the right person to join me on this journey. We can't wait to get started."

Kidney steered Irish province Munster to two European Cup triumphs before taking charge of Ireland from 2008 for a five-year spell.

Kiss joined the Ireland set-up a year after Kidney and remained on board until 2015, when he became director of rugby at Ulster before resigning from his post with the Irish province earlier this year.