Ireland v Australia
Wallabies 'sleeping animal' waking up: Les Kiss
November 13, 2013
Will Genia represents a massive threat to Ireland, Les Kiss says © Getty Images
Ireland defence coach Les Kiss knows a thing or two about Australian football teams, and he views the Wallabies as a sleeping beast just about ready to roar back to life. Kiss also knows a fair bit about Ewen McKenzie, and he believes the Wallabies coach's stunning yet "shrewd" selections are set to pay off. The former Queensland and Australia rugby league winger just hopes it doesn't all come together when Ireland host the Wallabies clash at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
"I know they're not showing a win record [3-9 since McKenzie started] that any coach would prefer to have, but I think they're building to something nicely," Kiss said. "We definitely need to be aware that they're a sleeping animal. They are waking up slowly but surely, so we've got to be careful."
Kiss got his coaching break in 2004 with McKenzie at New South Wales Waratahs, where he stayed for five seasons before heading overseas.
McKenzie's Wallabies were wiped 5-0 by New Zealand and South Africa after he replaced Robbie Deans, but Kiss points to the team's 18 tries in their past four Tests and improving defence as reasons why Ireland a huge challenge at the redeveloped Lansdowne Road. And said the shock decisions to dump James Horwill and Will Genia from leadership positions, elevating Ben Mowen to the captaincy and Quade Cooper as his deputy, were all designed to "shake the trees".
"If it was me I probably wouldn't have done some of them, but that doesn't mean it's not right," Kiss said. "Cooper being given the vice-captaincy, a shrewd move so he understands his responsiblity within the team. You can see those things happening: to put Genia on the bench tactically, but also as a clear message. I think [McKenzie] is going along fine ... I think they're in a better place than people give them credit for."
Ireland are also attempting to play an expressive and adventurous attacking game under new coach Joe Schmidt, a New Zealander who led Leinster to Heineken Cup success, but they seem likely to play tight against the Wallabies and look to employ the squeezing tactics up front with which they won 15-6 at Eden Park in Rugby World Cup 2011.
Kiss, as defence coach, is most worried about the threat Genia poses, dismissing any notion the halfback is off his game.
"I think it's massive [Genia's threat] and the danger is you put a magnifying glass on him and you take your eye off something else," he said. " think Quade Cooper is starting to really get his touch back. [Israel] Folau is phenomenal, and the man is dynamic in open play given a bit of space."
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