PREVIEW | Cockerill: "We have to keep battling."

Head Coach Richard Cockerill has called on Edinburgh to ‘continue battling’ after his side claimed four wins on the bounce to finish 2018 in a strong position in both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup.

The capital side return to action this Saturday with Southern Kings the visitors to BT Murrayfield (kick-off 7.35pm) and with crucial league points up for grabs, Cockerill has stressed the importance of keeping in touch with Conference B’s leading pack.

“We have to keep battling away. Players have to front up, it's simple as that. The settled part of our squad has been really good for us, especially on short turnarounds,” said Cockerill.

“It will be tight all round. We're fifth and below Leinster there are four teams who can all get in the top three.

“Treviso have improved out of sight while Scarlets and Ulster are good teams with good players. We have to keep doing what we do. The season is alive for us, and that's key.”

With a settled starting line-up featuring in both double-headers against Newcastle Falcons and Glasgow Warriors, this weekend’s encounter against Southern Kings gives the capital side a chance to rest a number of key internationalists.

However, with the final round of Heineken Champions Cup fixture against RC Toulon and Montpellier on the horizon, Cockerill insists that players ‘have to perform if they want to stay in the side.’

“We'll look after our players. They've had a tough shift. We have to trust the squad. We'll train well this week and put in a performance.

“We've gained eight points in the past two weeks, which has been brilliant if a degree unexpected. We have to keep battling away as we're battling in our conference.

“They are good lads. They work hard and they're fit. They're young men. They're professional rugby players so that's what they should do. Proper teams turn up every week with the same blokes and they perform. That's what we've got to get to. We're not there yet.

“If our guys don't front up they won't play. Simple as that. If they don't want to do it we'll find someone else who does. It isn’t complicated and it won't change.”

With four victories – including two away from home – and the 1872 Cup retained in the month of December, it’s clear to see the capital side have turned a corner in recent weeks.

And with pivotal fixtures yet to come in January – including this Saturday’s PRO14 match against Southern Kings – Cockerill has stressed the importance of his players maintaining their winning mind-set.

“We are getting a group of guys that are getting that emotional attachment with their team-mates and the club.

“The South African boys look like they're enjoying themselves. They're good players, good men and we have a good vibe about the team. They work hard, play hard and they are enjoying themselves.

“There's a long way to go. I want to be in Europe next year and we have to qualify for that. We have a lot to do. We want to be in the playoffs again. What happens this year affects next year.

“We have a lot to prove and we can still fall flat on our faces. We just have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to work hard.”