Kiss prom­ises a fight to the death

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership -

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.”

Keep­ing the dream alive: Ir­ish beat Quins

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