FORMER State of Origin rugby league player Les Kiss will temporarily take over as Ireland rugby union coach after yesterday’s sacking of Declan Kidney.
Kiss, the former North Sydney Bears winger who played four Origin games for Queensland in 1986 and 1990, has been working as Ireland defence coach.
Kidney, 53, guided Ireland to the 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam and won the world coach of the year award as a result – had been widely expected not to have his contract renewed at the end of June after a disappointing Six Nations.
The Irish avoided the wooden spoon only by a better points difference to France.
The IRFU issued a statement announcing the end of Kidney’s four-year tenure.
“The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced that it will not be offering a new contract to Declan Kidney after his current agreement ends (on 30 June next), with Declan’s role as Ireland’s Senior Men’s Coach ceasing today,” it said.
The IRFU said Kiss would take temporary charge of the team on its tour of the United States and Canada in June but they would be searching for a long-term replacement.
Among the names mentioned in recent weeks have been Joe Schmidt, a New Zealander who has guided Leinster to two European Cup triumphs.
Philip Browne, chief executive of the IRFU, paid a handsome tribute to Kidney, who got the Ireland job on the back of huge success at provincial level with Munster, winning two European Cups as well as taking them to the final in another two.
“His contribution and involvement across the spectrum of Irish rugby delivered Under Age, Provincial, Grand Slam and Triple Crown success, and epitomises his passion, belief and commitment to the game,” Browne said.
“With a host of new and emerging talent at every level, and despite the clear challenges ahead, we are confident of securing another world-class coach to work with this talented and ambitious group of players.”