Cockerill - We're delighted with the win
Hear from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with the press following Friday night's Guinness PRO14 win over Connacht that saw the capital club remain at the top of Conference B.
What was your assessment of the 41-14 win?
“They’re going to punish your mistakes, and they did, and we did too. So look, we're delighted with the win. Although I’d have been happy with 3-0 and walk away with the win in that weather and in the conference, but to get a bonus point was pleasing. It was a surprise for us really because they’re a good side and they’ve been playing very well. So look, we just take it, we move on and don’t get too excited. We just keep working hard and try to keep winning.”
Did you think your side made too many errors at times?
“Yeah look, you’re going to make mistakes in the game, it happens all the time. So we’ve spoken about the last two weeks, especially with the weather – if you make a mistake don’t worry about it, let’s just ignore it and let’s get on with the next job, and put something positive back into the game. So I think the players did that well tonight.
"As a coach, if you’re winning 20-0, you want to go in 20-0 at half-time and not give a soft try. You give them the field position and they worked hard and scored – it was the same at the start of the second half, charge down, to scrum, and then once teams get into your 22m it’s so hard to defend and keep them out. But across the board we managed to work it out and there were some real positives from tonight.
"Dan Winning’s debut at tighthead for us – he had a really good impact when he came on. Stan South was great on his debut and across the board we’re just working hard and enjoying each other’s company and there’s a good vibe around the club at the moment.”
Do you believe your side is playing more relaxed and freely this year?
“I think, having that cushion, whatever team you’re coaching or whatever company you’re in, it just takes the pressure off you, you know? Because when you lose, the next game is always vital, and you put yourself under pressure. We won’t be relaxing in any way, shape or form, but to have that cushion just frees us up a little bit because we’re going to have a bad day at the office at some point, and we’ve got a bit of cushion to absorb that if that happens.”
“I’ve got some really good people here. We’ve got some very good players. Some have left, some have raised their level. Great coaching staff – really good balance in that coaching staff, and great medical team too. It’s taken probably longer than I thought it would to get that balance right, and the player’s want to get better.
"Most players, if you put them in a good environment, and they’re getting better, they enjoy it, and put in hard work. If you’re getting better, you’ll enjoy it, so we’re trying to do that. It’s not perfect, I’m not the world’s best coach, but we just chip away. In the modern world we live in, my core values are hard work, honesty and graft and ‘let’s get into it and see what we’re made of’.
"You can’t just do the nice things the whole time, we have to live the horrible things too – that’s life, you know? If you work really hard, nice things happen, and we’re working hard – it doesn’t always go your way you know, but we’re doing okay.”
What goals have this team set as you enter the second half of the season?
“We want to qualify for the play-offs and give ourselves a shot at knockout rugby. Nights like last week and tonight, you can forget about that because the shinier days comes later on in May and June for us. So, we want to be in Europe, we want to play at the big table. I mean it’s hard, because like Connacht, you play in the Champions Cup last year, then you play some really big hitters in Europe and it takes it out of your squad, and you have a look at the depth, and it’s hard for the smaller clubs like ourselves and Connacht. You get battered every week. They’ve had a harder run in Europe than we have, and it takes its toll, and we had that last year too."