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‘We’re only scratching the surface’: Les Kiss on young talent, bench rotation and the Worcester win

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London Irish Head Coach Les Kiss believes there is much upside to come from the Exiles’ pool of talented outside backs following a fulfilling Round 1 victory against Worcester Warriors.

Five of Irish’s seven scores on the day, including a brace from substitute Henry Arundell, were notched by backs in the 45-14 win at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The win arrives off the back of difficulties faced by Saturday’s opponents, Worcester Warriors, off the field in what was the third consecutive opening day fixture between the Clubs.

Kiss shared his sympathy regarding the wider context outside of the 80 minutes but was unfeigned in his side’s attitude going into the game.

“I think there was an interesting emotional energy surrounding the whole day, notwithstanding the bigger picture with the Queen’s passing.

“In terms of Worcester’s situation, the narrative was really how they were going to manage this and we were very considerate of how that was, but we had to focus on what we have worked for as well.

“We talked about managing how we approached it; did it manifest the way we like?

“Maybe not completely, but there was a weird emotional energy around the game, and it was tough for those guys and where they’ve come from.”

With attacking intent evident as ever for the Boys in Green, the team also showed their force as a defensive outfit by staving off Warriors up to the fourth quarter.

“In some part, we had to just focus on what we were about, and I think that came through in our first 20 minutes.

“Defensively, we were absolutely brilliant to the things that we had worked on and that defence was crucial to be able to take away what we did.

“That spark that can happen for a team in that situation, they possibly could have got something going and grow energy from that so I was really pleased with our focus in that first 20 to 30 minutes, as they had two good sets on us down in our 22 and we repelled it.”

Defensive duties were not exclusive to certain areas of the squad, the whole matchday 23 contributing to a round-high tackle percentage of 95.15%.

With and without the ball, winger Ollie Hassell-Collins was one of many standouts after bagging a try of his own as well as an impressive stat line of seven tackles (none missed), one turnover forced and three defenders beaten.

The Australian was complimentary of Hassell-Collins, who was involved in all of Irish’s first-half scores as well as assisting Henry Arundell’s first try of the Premiership season in the second period.

 

 

“Ollie has been influential for a couple of years now, and I think there has been another growth in him for sure in the offseason,” Kiss elucidated.

“His training has been impeccable, but I thought we saw today that he used the extra pass, he used his pace and did enough to sit defences where he needed to then feed other people into positions.

“He also had to finish off a fairly physical end to score try, there was some nice stuff from Ollie today but I sometimes still feel that we’re scratching the surface with him.

“There’s only upside to him all the way, and there has been some real quality feedback from his peers in training in the way that he’s engaging his voice in the game too.

“He’s being more vocal, more direct in how he can help other people around him because he is a dangerous beast when he opens up.”

The excitement of Irish’s Head Coach was not capped to just the 23-year-old, with Arundell’s contributory deuce of tries only furthered with Will Joseph’s third career try for Irish.

Being the Club’s first England representatives since 2013, Arundell and Joseph only extended their recent form on Saturday and Kiss believes there is more to come in relation to international recognition from the wider squad.

“There is a sense of a confidence boost and a sense that they belong in Test footy, they believe that they can belong in that territory.

“It would be remiss of me to not say that we have a number of outside backs that could live in that space, Ollie [Hassell-Collins] is growing, Ben [Loader] will have his chances at some stage and Tom Parton has been in that area too.

“That experience, you can’t replace that and I have had good chats with Martin Gleeson (England Attack Coach) about some of the stuff we can continue to grow with them, so that conversation is solid and we want to do as much as we can to help those two lads and all of our outside backs.”

 

 

Arundell’s introduction to the game on 46 minutes, and score a minute later, spurred on a jubilant Gtech Community Stadium for the first points of the second forty.

The coaching teams were seemingly no different, sharing the excitement of the Exile Nation as the teenager continued to cement his name amongst the division’s most exciting talents.

Kiss joked: “I’d be inhuman if I didn’t!

“With Henry, everything he touches turns to gold at the moment but it’s not by accident.

“It’s not just him also, it’s also how the team work around him to open up opportunities for him.

“I know we saw that almost unbelievable situation in the Test matches in Australia, he creates special moments and he nearly created another opportunity when he chipped the ball and it bobbled around.

“He’s got something about him, again it’s not by accident but there’s a true ability that’s with him.

“When you have guys like Ben Loader and Matt Williams who are the recent youth, he’s stepping into that bridge now where they are working so close together that it makes a massive difference to what he can do.

“He’s really appreciative of what his teammates do for him, and I am excited for him and what he can do.”

Arundell’s introduction was one of eight on the day as Declan Kidney emptied the bench in the first run-out of the campaign, with utilisation of depth set to be an important component of Irish’s season.

“We had to manage some of their [Henry Arundell and Will Joseph’s] minutes, they have been training and today we managed Henry’s pitch time.

“The use of our replacements was critical; giving Paddy [Jackson] a chance to catch a breath, to see Luca Morisi at 12, give Benhard [van Rensburg] a go at 10 and to have a young nine in Caolan Englefield on in place of Ben White was crucial.

“We gave Danilo [Fischetti] a chance to feel his way into how we play in the Premiership, so we talked a lot about how we managed our replacements going forward and I thought we did so well today.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


Premiership

Irish name side for west London derby

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Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad for Sunday’s derby clash with Harlequins at the Gtech Community Stadium in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership (3pm kick-off).

Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Oliver Hoskins are in the front row, with Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman in the second row.

Matt Rogerson captains the side from the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Tom Pearson and Chandler Cunningham-South.

Ben White and Paddy Jackson link up to form the halfback duo, and Rory Jennings partners Benhard van Rensburg in the centres.

Michael Dykes, Lucio Cinti and James Stokes complete the line-up as the back three.

“Whenever these two clubs pitch up against one another, it always creates a good game of rugby,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.

“I know that we are expecting a good crowd at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, and they will inevitably create a great atmosphere.

“We need to make sure that we put in a full 80-minute performance to give our supporters a reason to show their voice. Harlequins are a well-drilled side, and we know it will be a difficult challenge this weekend, but one we look forward to.”

London Irish:
15 James Stokes, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.

Replacements:
16 Mike Willemse, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.

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Baxter issues Moon injury update

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Exeter Chiefs

By Mark Stevens
26/1/23

Rob Baxter says he cannot give a timescale as to when prop Ben Moon will return to the Exeter Chiefs match-day squad.

The 33-year-old forward is currently Exeter’s longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2008 away to Sedgley Park, and is the last remaining member of their 2009-10 promotion squad.

The England international, however, has not featured for the Devon club since coming off the bench against Munster in last April’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Sandy Park.

Asked by the media this week about Moon, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby said: “I wouldn’t hold out hope that he’s going to be appearing soon. It’s been a challenge for Ben for a little period of time now, it’s not just been this season.

“He’s had periods in and out with it, it’s something that’s been affecting him for a little while and because of what it is we just have to be very careful with it.”

Moon has featured in all six of Exeter’s Premiership final appearances at Twickenham – and he also played in the 2020 European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, and Exeter’s first major final when they beat Northampton Saints to win the 2014 LV Cup.

Moon won eight England caps in the 2018-19 season, but did not make the squad for that autumn’s World Cup in Japan.

“He’s still active around the club, he’s still here, he’s in training, he’s continuing very hard with his rehab and getting everything else he can right, but we’ve just got to be really careful around that neck.

“It’s probably one of those things where it’s getting to the stage where there’s not a lot more we can do. I can’t talk for Ben about his future, but you’re not going to see him in the immediate future on the pitch.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


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Premiership

TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby

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South African talisman Rob du Preez is set to make his 100th Sharks appearance whilst Alex Groves is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut as Alex Sanderson names his side to face Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport) 

Sanderson makes seven changes to the Sale starting line-up as his squad returns to Gallagher Premiership action following defeat at the hands of Ulster in the Champions Cup. 

In the forwards, there is a complete change of the Sharks front-row as Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert all return to face Bath.  

Cobus Wiese links back up with Josh Beaumont in the second row following a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Sharks’ clash with Toulouse two weeks ago. 

Jono Ross captains the side in the absence of Ben Curry, whilst Sam Dugdale steps in to replace the flanker after his England call up to Steve Borthwick’s England squad. Jean-Luc du Preez retains the number 8 shirt with twin-brother Dan remaining on the side lines due to an ongoing hand injury. 

Gus Warr continues to provide a platform for success at scrum-half and links up with centurion Rob du Preez, who is named at fly-half. 

The ever-present Sam James retains the thirteen shirt with Ryan Mills picked at inside centre in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. The former Wasps centre is one of two changes in the Sharks’ back line. 

Sanderson’s second change in the backs comes in the form of Tom Roebuck, who replaces Arron Reed on the wing after an impressive cameo in the Champions Cup. Tom O’Flaherty is named on the other wing, with exciting academy graduate Joe Carpenter at full-back. 

On the bench, Ewan Ashman, Ross Harrison and Joe Jones are named as front-row replacements, with Alex Groves and Rouban Birch providing further cover for the forwards. Raffi Quirke, Luke James and Arron Reed cover the backs. 

Sale Sharks Starting XV: 

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Jono Ross (c), 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez 

Replacements: 

16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Alex Groves, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby


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