Press Pass: Cockerill on derby test

Press Pass: Cockerill on derby test

Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press ahead of Saturday's 1872 Cup derby with Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield.

On preparations heading into Saturday

"It's been pretty smooth really. We had four days off, came back in yesterday (Monday) to have a normal week's training.

"So to be fair, the game being called off hasn't really affected us apart from the boys have had a bit more time to spend with their families over the Christmas period.

"We have a normal week and the boys can just ignore New Year's Eve!"

On stringent COVID measures put in place for Saturday

"We continue to take advice from the medical staff at Scottish Rugby and everyone at the club continues to be tested.

"We were tested yesterday (Monday) and all Edinburgh Rugby tests came back negative, and I'm sure Glasgow are the same.

"We just prepare as well as we can and if they let us play, we play."

On the team's form heading into the derby

"We've had a tough start, but we don't normally have an eight week Autumn series, do we? There are circumstances around the situation that are a bit different.

"We could have obviously had some better results and better performances, but we're at where we're at, and it's as simple as that.

"We have had a couple of decent performances and a decent win in Europe and we hope to take that into Saturday's game and the points up for grabs are really important for both sides."

On the season so far and how tough it's been overall

"I wouldn't say it's been the toughest season for me personally to deal with so far, it's just part and parcel of being a Head Coach. You get thrown different curve balls at different times.

"This has been pretty unique with COVID for obvious reasons, so you just have to roll with it and deal with it.

"You just have to get on with it. When we have 20 plus players missing from you first team, funnily enough, you're not quite as good as you'd like to be - it doesn't take a lot to work that out."

On the form of the Warriors this season

"They've had a lot of guys away. I think if both teams have everyone available, on paper, they're both very good teams aren't they.

"You look at the Glasgow side, and if they have everyone available and pick their best team - which I'm sure they will - they are a very good team.

"I don't think either side will go into Saturday's match saying they are the form team and expect to win because it will be a tight affair.

"I think it will be a tight game and it will be two good sides going at it trying to get the points."

On the positives taken out of European performances

"We were very close to getting a result against La Rochelle, who are a very good side and obviously we managed to come back from 12-0 down to beat Sale, that are again a very good team.

"Both sides are every well stocked and very well resource playing wise, and it shows that if we get it right, we can compete at that level.

"We're not down in the dumps - we've actually been playing some half-decent rugby, we've just not been quite good enough to finish games off.

"We managed to do it against Sale, and we're going to need to do it in the next few weeks as we return to league action and then head into Europe again.

"We just want to go as far as we can in every competition we're competing in."

On keeping the balance of the squad moving forward

“For us, it is just about getting the balance to our squad. Moving forward, we will have two loose-heads away with Scotland, a hooker, two tight-heads, two locks, all our back row, and so on.

“You have to plan with some certainty that you are going to have some players to play for you. We work on the worst-case scenario and the depth of purely Scottish qualified guys is not as deep as we would all like.

“If you look at the positions in which we have non-SQ [Scottish Qualified] players, we also have a very strong contingent of SQ players.

"At loose-head, for example, we have Sam Grahamslaw, Rory Sutherland and Pierre, who will soon become a Scotsman. If 75 per cent of our looseheads are Scottish-qualified, it’s a pretty good ratio, isn’t it?

“We have that across all our positions. If we do have a foreign player in there, we do have SQ players in there as well. We are not replacing Scottish-qualified players, we are supplementing them."

On recruitment and retaining key players

“I take it as a compliment. We’re a good side who are developing very good players so people are going to be interested in them.

“If people across the world are trying to nick our players it shows we are doing something right. I’m confident we can keep our players and we’ll work as hard as we can to keep them.

“We’ve got a good, hard-working environment which is helping develop players in the right way. If our players are getting linked with other teams, I’ll take it as a compliment and so should the players.

"It doesn’t mean our players will be leaving, I can guarantee that. We will do everything we can to keep them.”

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