TOP BAR - Fixtures

Kiss excited for maiden Gallagher Premiership season

Kiss excited for maiden Gallagher Premiership season

London Irish head coach Les Kiss admitted he can’t wait to get his first taste of Gallagher Premiership Rugby action with his newly-promoted side.

Irish secured an immediate return to the top flight following relegation in 2018, after being crowned champions of the second tier with just two defeats in 22 games.

The side will get the new season underway at six-time champions Wasps, before their first home game at the Madejski Stadium against Sale Sharks in Round 2.

Kiss, who alongside Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney is preparing for his first experience of the Premiership, is under no illusion about the challenges his side will come up against.

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But, the 54-year-old believes last year’s Championship season will serve as a good grounding for what lays ahead for him and his team in the new campaign.

He said: “Every week is going to be a challenge and I don’t say that lightly or in a clichéd way.

“Wasps have been a constant top four threat for the last four or five years. I’ve coached against Wasps in Coventry and it’s a very difficult place to play them.

“They’ve lost a few players but they’ve brought some good ones in, and Dai Young’s been there for a while now so they know what they’re about and it’s going to be a big challenge.

“With the signings Sale have made, I think they’ll be massively tricky.

“It’s probably nice we don’t play them away early in the season as they’re a hot team at home and I think they’re one of the sides that are going to be challenging for the top four.

“There are different ways of looking at how we can approach games, but I don’t think anyone’s going to take us for granted or let us slip under the radar.

“Declan and I are really looking forward to getting our first taste of the Premiership.

“The Championship was a great way to get to know English rugby, now we’ve got another challenge so hopefully what we did last year will serve us well for next season.”

With pre-season firmly underway at Irish, Kiss admits the launch of the fixtures narrows their focus and allows them to switch their attention to their goals for the upcoming season.

The club are set to move into the Brentford Community Stadium next year, and the former Ulster boss is determined to deliver success in the final season at the Madejski after two decades in Reading.

“Even though the competition is still a way off, the new fixtures certainly concentrate the mind about the challenges ahead,” he said.

“Our focus is on making sure we get our preparation right in the pre-season, but now we’ve got a small goal and we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready for the opening rounds of games.

“There’s a good sense of confidence about the type of people we’ve got in place and the players we’ve brought in, but you need a lot of luck in this league too!

“Every game is real and you can’t take it for granted – you have to fight for every point.

“We’re confident we’re willing to fight for each other, to challenge our game and express what we’d like to do, but that’s balanced with knowing it’s going to be hard work.

“There’s a lot of excitement about our move to Brentford, but we’re hoping we can just put all of that into place and do our last season at the Madejski justice.”

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