Press Pass: Cockerill previews Ulster
Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he looks ahead to Monday night's Guinness PRO14 Round 8 match-up with Ulster at BT Murrayfield
On Edinburgh's form heading into Monday night's match
We have won two out of our last three games. Obviously we did not play last time because of Dragons being called off. We lost at Leinster which was always going to be a difficult assignment for us. Ulster are a very good side and unbeaten and it will be tough for us on Monday.
We need to keep chipping away and getting as many points as we can. We will put as good a side out as we can on Monday and try and win the game. It has been tough for us. The same at Glasgow with Danny.
We just have to keep working hard. Scottish rugby is in rude health at test level because of what the clubs are doing. Once they all get taken there is a bubble because of COVID and no one is released it is always going to be difficult.
I am always pleased to see a Test window ending because you want your players back and your players back in rhythm. This autumn has been like no other due to Covid and this is what has been put in front of us with so many test matches, two blocks of eight weeks, when we don’t get our players. That’s life and we have to get on with it.
On Jaco being called into the Scotland squad
He has finished quarantine as far as I am aware and he is joining the Scotland squad this week in preparation for the final (Nations Cup) game a week on Saturday. He won’t play for us on Monday as he will be preparing hopefully to be involved with Scotland on the Saturday. He is available to be picked for Scotland so good luck to him.
He is a very good player and someone who kicks his goals very well and is very physical and takes the ball to the line. He is a good defender and he is learning how to control the game by management which is getting better every time.
He will have to be very good to compete with Duncan Weir who is playing well at the moment, and Finn and Adam are very good players. He will have to up his game to get in front of either of these guys.
He is a good lad, a good player but until he plays at test level you never really know do you. He has worked really hard at his game and is very committed to want to qualify and play for Scotland. We are very proud we have another player in the squad who will get another opportunity in a week or so.
On the team bouncing back after last season's Semi-Final defeat
“No, I don’t think we have a hangover, we’ve just got to get on with playing what’s in front of us. The side that goes out for us on Monday will be vastly different to the one that played last time, unfortunately.
"It’s a shame for the competition because the last two or three times we’ve played Ulster it’s been very tight. They are missing some individuals but I think we’re missing 13 lads with Scotland. Kunavula is with Fiji, so there’s 14 guys who potentially would be in and around our squad.
“We just have to accept that’s the way the cards have fallen at this point. I’d love to be in Ulster’s position where you have a deep squad and bigger budgets and you lose five or six guys to the Test team. Those are the things I dream of - having only six players away with the Test squad. But we’ve just got to deal with it.
"People can criticise and say ‘you’re not playing well enough’ and it’s not good enough when you lose but if they say that they’re not taking it in the contest of who we’re playing and the circumstances we’re playing under. I can guarantee that I want to win more than anybody but there are some things you can’t control.”
On the chance of international players returning for Ulster
“It’s a really difficult one because we play on Monday. They [Scotland] don’t play this weekend so they’ll want a good two days training, Monday and Tuesday, getting all the physical parts done. Well, to do that you need players to train with and against, so therein lies the problem.
"The Monday night games are an absolute nightmare for this period for getting guys back because Gregor will want to prepare his 23 as best he can early in the week around the physical part going into whoever they play. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place - if you release guys back and you don’t prepare properly at test level you’re going to struggle. And it you don’t release them it doesn’t help the pro teams.
“But it gets decided far above our heads. And I completely get where Gregor’s coming from - he needs the players and he needs to prepare properly because they’ll be playing Ireland or England and neither of these teams are sides you’d want to play underprepared.”