Kiss promises a fight to the death
LONDON Irish head coach Les Kiss has hailed the outstanding work ethic of his side, who must beat champions Exeter today to keep their survival hopes alive.
Former Ulster boss Kiss arrived last month in tandem with technical consultant Declan Kidney and the Aussie has seen enough to believe the great escape is still on.
With last week’s 35-5 thrashing of Harlequins providing hope, Kiss told
TRP: “Declan and I didn’t come here with any grand plan of how we were going to finish the season, but there’s a group of players who want to fight really hard.
“The work ethos among the players and management is bloody brilliant, quite frankly, and a lot of what we’ve been doing has been of a very high quality. We’re still in the hunt and if we can just stay on task and not look too far ahead, we’ve got a chance.”
Irish opt for continuity, with the only starting changes seeing Josh McNally switch to flanker for Jake Schatz while Seb de Chaves comes in at lock.
Exeter will provide the ultimate test of Irish’s survival ambitions, but Kiss said: “We’re playing the top of the league, the champions, but what better challenge is there?
“We need to find more clues about ourselves and I hope we see a good performance. What Declan and I have inherited is pretty good, it’s now about taking things further.”
Exeter arrive in prime form, having won their last six matches in all competitions including their Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph. However, Chiefs centre Ian Whitten warns: “Everyone is fighting for something in the Premiership and today’s no different.
“London Irish have picked up their results recently and, as an Ulsterman, it’s a club I like. I’ve been coached by Declan Kidney and Les Kiss and I know they’re great coaches, so with the good players they’ve got it’s no surprise they’re picking up results. They’ve got everything to play for and that will ensure this is a hard-fought game.”
Whitten takes Sam Hill’s place at 12 as Chiefs boss Rob Baxter freshens things up with seven changes. There are starts for forwards Ben Moon, Mitch Lees and Dave Ewers, while Jack Nowell, Gareth Steenson and Santiago Cordero join the back-line.
Whitten has featured in every league game this season but insists the competitive nature of Exeter’s squad guarantees there will be no complacency.
He added: “The cup win showed our coaches can pick two separate teams without weakening the side, so it’s up to you to put it all out there and that’s a huge motivation for all of us.”
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