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Super Pacific Queensland Reds 2024 news Les Kiss mic’d up, behind the scenes, makes immediate impact against Waratahs, exclusive

You can take the man out of State of Origin but you can’t take State of Origin out of the man.

Stan Sport’s cameras captured new Queensland Reds coach Les Kiss at his passionate and parochial best on Saturday night as he made a winning debut against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.

It is the same Lang Park field on which North Sydney Bears winger Kiss scored an Origin try for Queensland way back in 1986.

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Kiss played four games for the Maroons and four for the Kangaroos throughout his league playing career before making an unlikely career switch into rugby coaching.

A chance meeting with Springboks coach Harry Viljoen while working with the Northern Eagles in 2002 was the catalyst for Kiss changing codes and embarking on a journey that’s included jobs with South Africa, NSW, Ireland, Ulster and London Irish.

Kiss has replaced another former Origin star, Brad Thorn, at the Queensland helm this season.

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Both he and Waratahs coach Darren Coleman were mic’d up during their round one clash and extended vision will be shown during this weekend’s Super Round on Stan.

“This is worth every f—ing thing,” Kiss tells his players pre-match.

“To bleed and f—ing toil in this f—ing shirt tonight. This is New South f—ing Wales coming to our turf.”

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The Reds won the match 40-22 and will meet the Hurricanes in Melbourne on Sunday.

Morgan Turinui was coached by Kiss at the Waratahs from 2003-7 when he worked as an assistant.

“He is animated and passionate like everyone is but lots of coaches will try and keep their cool or we go to them for reaction only on maybe a referee’s decision,” Turinui said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.

“But I remember, even as a defensive coach, it was actually almost disconcerting to see him behind the play at training, jumping up and down and riding every tackle and every little bit – he’d skip around and be really animated.

“That’s just who he is. He’s excited, he loves the game and what’s great is after 20 years of coaching, he’s mature, he’s self aware, he knows how to coach a team. But he still loves the game. He still loves the fight. He still gets enjoyment out of his team doing great things.”

Stephen Hoiles was also coached by Kiss during his NSW career between 2004-6.

Hoiles, who coached Randwick to a drought breaking Shute Shield title last year, said Kiss’ fingerprints were all over an improved Reds side in round one.

“Under Brad Thorn they were tough and they were brave,” Hoiles said on Between Two Posts.

“But we said a lot of times last year, they just looked as though they didn’t have a plan B if the brutality part of the game didn’t work.

“So that makes it hard for a young 10 in (Tom) Lynagh last season.

“So he just looked very much in control on Saturday night. They’ve still got a lot to do but the Reds look like they’re in for a better season.”

Turinui agreed Queensland – who finished eighth with a 5-9 record last season – were well placed to be big movers in 2024.

“Without putting it too simply, they look like they’ve been coached,” Turinui said.

“That squad’s been built by Thorn, great attitude, all that sort of stuff. But as a collective in the way their base game was played and how they developed their attack and defensive systems, we hadn’t seen a lot of progression. That was stark, the difference in what we’ve seen. The Reds, they can do a lot this year.”

Hoiles added that Kiss’ long apprenticeship overseas – after missing out on the Waratahs top job in 2009 – would serve him well at Ballymore.

“I love the patience he’s shown,” Hoiles said.

“It’s going to be invaluable for the Reds and you can already see it… the way they’re playing, the clinical-ness in it. They’ve got opportunities to take the ball on through the middle.

“They’ve got an offload game, they’ve got width… not jumping out and saying that they’re competition favourites but they’re just a different organisation. The whole place – you want to say that Queensland in general look like they’ve got a really good model going forward.

“They’ve had the Ballymore upgrade and they’re in a good place financially. So I hope they can capitalise on it because we need one of our main states to be thriving in Super Rugby.”


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