The Queensland Rugby Union has announced successful international coach and Bundaberg-born Les Kiss as the new Queensland Reds head coach.
With 26 years of professional coaching experience across six countries and nine competitions, Les has a signed a three-year deal with the Reds that will see him at Ballymore through 2026.
Born in Bundaberg, Kiss returns to his home-state after five years as head coach at London Irish Rugby Club in the UK where he oversaw their promotion from the English Championship to the top-flight English Premiership.
He continued the club’s upward trend during his time in west-London as he guided the Exiles to a fifth-place finish in 2023 – their best season in 15 years.
The 58-year-old has a long list of coaching achievements at a provincial, state and national level with multiple pieces of silverware and success from around the world with teams such as Ireland, Ulster, the Springboks and New South Wales Waratahs.
“Queensland Rugby has a proud history of 140 years and I am honoured to soon be a part of that as I begin this next chapter of my coaching career at the Reds,” Les said.
“It was an attractive option.
“The opportunity to return home to Queensland and coach at a successful club in a new world-class facility at Ballymore was something which appealed to me greatly.
“The Reds have an exciting roster which I am really looking forward to working with.
“There's a pathway to the Wallabies with high-quality players boasting skill, ambition and endeavour.
“With anything in life, you need meaning and purpose. That's already clear to see here. Brad Thorn laid a culture of fight, spirit and hard-work, plus a love for the jersey – as Queenslanders we get that.
“I am committed to building on these strong foundations to help the Reds achieve their full potential in Super Rugby.”
QRU CEO David Hanham said officially welcomed Les to the Reds Family as the new Queensland head coach.
“Les comes to Ballymore with more than 20 years of professional coaching experience – including eight as a head coach across multiple club environments in the UK and Europe,” he said.
“He has had success at all levels including Six Nations titles with Ireland, Super Rugby and Pro14 finals with the Waratahs and Ulster plus English Premiership promotion at London Irish.
“Throughout an extensive three-stage selection process, Les was a standout candidate in front of an independent panel and provided us with clarity and confidence in his ability to be successful as head coach.
“As a Queenslander and having previously coached in Australia, combined with his wealth of experience and success, Les is an excellent fit for the Reds and we believe he has the right formula to take Queensland to the next level in Super Rugby.”
During his eight years as assistant coach with Ireland, Les won three Six Nations titles (2009, 2014, 2015) and a Grand Slam (2009), plus two quarter-final finishes in the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.
He spent six years as an assistant coach at the Waratahs when New South Wales were Grand Finalists in 2005 and 2008, and semi-finalists in 2006 – a placing he replicated 10 years later at Ulster in the Pro14 while he was Director of Rugby with the Northern Irish powerhouse for three years.
Les was also an assistant coach in 11 Tests with the Springboks and was involved in the Stormers, Bulls and Cats/Lions Super Rugby programs between 2001 and 2002.
Before his successful coaching career, Kiss played rugby league during the 1980’s and ‘90’s after first starting with Valleys in the Brisbane Rugby League competition.
He finished with more than 100 combined games for North Sydney, Queensland and Australia that included 29 tries for the Bears, a try on debut for the Maroons in Game 2 of the 1986 State of Origin Series and two tries in four Tests for the Kangaroos.
Article by Reds Media Unit
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