LONDON Irish have announced two new appointments that chief executive Brian Facer believes will mark the start of a new era at the club.

Former Ireland head coach Declan Kidney is to become the club’s technical consultant, while Les Kiss, who was Ireland’s defence coach under Kidney, becomes head coach.

Kidney, who led Ireland to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009, has joined from University College Cork, while Kiss left Ulster in January.

The pair have both signed three-year deals and will work with Irish’s director of rugby Nick Kennedy.

But former player Brendan Venter, who was appointed technical director s 2016, has been released by the club.

The changes come at a time when Exiles are battling to avoid relegation from the Aviva Premiership. They are 12 points adrift at the bottom of the table with five games remaining, having won just two of their 17 matches this season.

Facer said: “Declan and Les have a great working relationship and huge experience of what it takes to be successful in elite rugby.

“Declan is a legend of Irish rugby, and Les’ experience in senior coaching positions with the national squads of South Africa and Ireland, together with his roles at New South Wales and Ulster, will be invaluable in helping London Irish re-establish itself as a force in the Aviva Premiership.”

Kidney is relishing the opportunity of coaching London Irish, a club he says has massive potential.

“I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a challenging job. English club rugby is very competitive, and it is going to take several years for us to cement a place at the top end of the Premiership. But I believe that with the right structures this becomes a realistic ambition for us.

“I’m particularly excited to be working with Les Kiss again. We had a great relationship with the Ireland national team and I know that he is the right person to join me on this journey.”

Mick Crossan, London Irish’s president and majority shareholder, commented: “We’re as ambitious as every other club in the Premiership, and in order to achieve the objectives we have set for the club we need to make changes in the coaching structure to give us the best chance for success.

“The current coaches under Brendan Venter have worked very hard to consolidate our position in the Premiership following promotion last year, but it is fair to say that things haven’t gone to plan.

“Our young coaching team under Nick Kennedy have worked tirelessly and have built a great team spirit, despite the disappointing run of league results.

“We feel that the time is now right to bring in someone to replace Brendan and to work with the current coaches to give us a new direction.

“Declan will bring a winning mentality to London Irish, something he has shown over a number of years by winning the Heineken Cup twice with Munster and the Grand Slam with Ireland, which he achieved working with Les Kiss as his assistant coach in 2009.”

Crossan added: “Brendan will always be a significant figure in our history and we thank him for all of his efforts over the last season-and-a-half.”

London Irish return to action against Gloucester at Madejski Stadium on Saturday, March 24 (3pm ko).