Press Pass: Agen preview

Press Pass: Agen preview

Hear from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as spoke with the press ahead of Saturday's crucial European Challenge Cup match against Agen at BT Murrayfield.

On where the team are following the defeat to Bordeaux-Bègles

“We need to win don’t we. If we win, we’re through. I believe a win guarantees us eight spot in the knockout stages, so want to get as many points a we can. If we win with a bonus-point, I think we could end up sixth, so we’ll see what happens with the rest of the group matches.

“Wherever we go, it will be tough, because there are some very good sides left in the competition. It has been a really tough group for us. Bordeaux are a great side, Wasps are a great side. We’ve given ourselves a great opportunity to qualify and knockouts are knockouts – we’ll just see where we get to.”

On rotating the team this weekend

“Yeah, I’ll probably rotate all the best blokes back in. We’ll put a strong team out. We’ve got a pretty deep squad now, so whichever guys are selected will no doubt be good enough for the game at hand. It will pretty much be our strongest team and I expect us to come out and perform and win.”

On Bordeaux-Bègles being benchmark for where Edinburgh need to be in the tournament

“I think they are a little bit. I was obviously disappointed with the performance and they overpowered us physically at times. But they are a very good side. They’ve never been to a Quarter-Final before and they targeted this competition to do that – and they obviously picked their best team. It’s no disgrace losing there. I think we could have played a bit better – but know we know what it looks like.

“We can pick a stronger team. It was definitely sensible to rest a few of the international guys and it gave some of our less experienced boys a tough experience in a harsh environment. I’ve got no regrets in the team I picked, but I know we can play a lot better. We’ve got lots to build on, but as you know, I always want to win.”

On the re-signing of Duhan van der Merwe

He’s got a unique skill-set, he’s very quick and finishes well, so I’m delighted that he’s re-signed. He can have the ball 70 metres from the line and, if he gets and opportunity, he’s going to take it. He has pure pace – his footwork and his power – he’s scored tries from nothing.

“Having a player like him in your squad is important because he can make the difference: spark the game into life or turn the game in your favour. It’s important to keep those types of players.

“We’ve not got a massive budget so we’re not going to recruit another ten players to strengthen the squad. We have to get stronger by staying together and improving as a team.

“Obviously he’d be in demand in other places so I’m delighted he sees his future here – and hopefully that will include national involvement at some point. He’s keen to play international rugby and hopefully we’re giving him the platform to do that.

“When he came, he was very young, very raw – and he was injured when he arrived. So, we had to put our faith in him, and it has worked out well.”

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