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Less Kiss: Ireland set for 'mighiest challenge'

Updated: Saturday, 23 Nov 2013 15:00 | Comments

Can Ireland achieve a first Test victory against the All Blacks?
Can Ireland achieve a first Test victory against the All Blacks?

New Zealand's ability to escape white-hot pressure situations makes them the "mightiest challenge in rugby", but they should not be feared says Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss. 

Yet, Kiss is not scared off by the challenge facing Ireland at the Aviva on Sunday.

The Australian believes the All Blacks deflect the "blowtorch of pressure" better than any other side in the world, by continually increasing the pace of their game.

Ireland have never beaten New Zealand in 27 attempts, but Kiss is adamant Joe Schmidt's side remain unfazed - even after leaking four tries in a 32-15 defeat to Australia last weekend.

Backing Ireland to break their Kiwi duck on Sunday, defence specialist Kiss said: "They can move the ball quicker than anyone, they back their skill sets.

"I don't want to build them up any more, but they do deserve all the press they have had.

"They can have the blowtorch of pressure right on their belly and they still find ways out of those situations.

"This is the mightiest challenge in rugby but it doesn't scare us off."

"I don't want to build them up any more, but they do deserve all the press they have had" - Less Kiss on the All Blacks

Ireland entered the autumn international Guinness Series with high hopes for life under new boss Schmidt.

The former Leinster coach can boast success in every club stint, but has already been alerted to the size of the task with Ireland.

Totems like Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell are entering their career twilights, and one of Schmidt's biggest challenges will be to usher through the next generation - without delay.

Leinster lock Devin Toner has clearly been earmarked as O'Connell's tight-five partner, winning selection for all three autumn Tests.

But Toner is just like a host of other developing Ireland stars: already in their mid-20s, but with far fewer caps than their age.

Kiss sees general progress, but admitted this is not the weekend to make bold projections on the future.

He said: "I always feel under pressure, don't worry about that, and it gets bigger when you play teams like the All Blacks.

"It was clearly a frustration last week against Australia, it definitely didn't go according to plan.

"We always talk about the need for intensity and aggression in defence, and this week has been no different.

"We didn't bring that last week, but we've spent time on that now, certainly.

"We're seeing the green shoots of progress internally, we have to trust that.

"Hopefully we see some gains.

"We'll have a camp at Christmas and then the Six Nations will be upon us before we know it.

"But we can't focus on any of that this weekend: the challenge that's in front of us is pretty evident.

"If we do enough things right in this game we believe we can win it.

"We have to be accurate and physical, and if we get the little technical things right, and build those up, then we will have a chance."

Live television coverage of Ireland v New Zealand from 13:00 on Sunday 24 November on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Live radio coverage on Sunday Sport from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).

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