Press Pass: Cockerll on Ospreys opener
Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press ahead of Saturday's 2020-21 Guinness PRO14 opener against Ospreys at BT Murrayfield.
How does it feel going straight into the new season and are the squad feeling refreshed?
“Probably more of a continuation, really. We’ve had a little bit of downtime, back in this week and getting ready for Ospreys on Saturday. Just a bit of refresh and a few days away, then just roll on into it. Exciting times.”
“We know that we’re good enough to get back into form straight away. As disappointing as Ulster and to a point Bordeaux were, we’ve had good reviews and some harsh words around where we need to be.
“Actually we’re doing some very good things. We’re a good side that’s played some very good rugby. We’ve developed our style out of sight in the last 12 months. I know it’s everybody’s job to look at the faults and where can we get better and where do we go next, but if you look in detail, this team has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months and we shouldn’t lose sight of that either.”
How was morale after those two losses?
“I don’t think we had to pick them up. Disappointment more post-Ulster because we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we didn’t. Bordeaux was slightly different: I thought we played pretty well. We’ve got to learn it’s tiny margins in these games that make the difference.
“We’re happy to get back into the season again. We live in a slightly strange world: I don’t think we should be complaining about being able to do what we love doing. It’s our job and our livelihood, so I think we should be happy to have the opportunity to get back into it, and hopefully as time goes on gert spectators back in and keep the game running and hopefully push into a brighter future for the next six months or so.”
How are your preparing for an Ospreys team that struggled last season?
“We've got a good record at home but they are a good side as well with a new coaching staff.
“Listen they've got five British Lions in their squad so they’re no mugs. We'll have pretty much a full team to pick from. We'll be well prepped. We want to get off to a good start.
“We've had some pretty good preparation. Glasgow twice, Ulster and Bordeaux – that's the toughest pre-season we've played.
“We've got to use that experience. We'll look to put our best team on the field and go try to get as many points as we can.
What is the team news heading into Saturday's league opener?
“We're hoping the majority of the squad will be fit. The only one who's not fit is Henry Pyrgos, who's still not fit to be selected, and Bill Mata, who will have surgery on his ankle on Thursday to repair a ligament.
“He will probably be six to eight weeks with that, meaning he will miss the first two rounds of the PRO14 with us then the international period with Fiji. Once he has surgery we'll know more, it may be shorter, it may be longer but roughly it will be six to eight weeks.
“It's tough. He has been playing very well. We know Bill is pivotal to ourselves so it's disappointing. Not just for us but for Fiji too. We want our guys to play for their countries because they are very proud.
“So he will be disappointed and so will lots of rugby fans who want to see Bill playing in a full-strength Fiji team. Listen, we've got good cover with Haining and Bradbury are good No8s so we're not short in the back row but certainly for Edinburgh and Fiji that will be a blow.”
What needs to be done to get the win against Ospreys?
“They played Scarlets on Friday but it was pretty much two second teams, really, from what I saw.
"They’re a good side, I know Toby Booth well and he’s a good coach. North will be missing through suspension but they’ve got four other British Lions within that squad. They’re a talented team, they just had a disappointing season by their standards.
“We’ll do our due diligence on them but we’ve got to make sure all parts of our game are right. It’s more about concentrating on us doing our bits well and consistently as possible and making sure that when we get the opportunities to score we take them, and when we control the game, make sure we control the game and don’t give away soft points. We’ve been guilty of that against Ulster and Bordeaux and we’ve got to stop that. Hopefully we’ll have learned some lessons, as harsh as they are.”