Press Pass: Dragons up next

Press Pass: Dragons up next

Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press in the build-up to Friday night's trip to face Dragons at Rodney Parade.

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On the signing of Boan Venter

“Knowing that Pierre Schoeman is going to qualify to play for Scotland in the summer, we’ve been looking for some reinforcements there, and probably non-SQ because we are going to lose Rory Sutherland and Schoeman, I would imagine, for large parts of the season.

"So I needed the assurance of getting a guy who is going to be available all year round. Sam Grahamslaw will still be in the squad, so we have got three guys who are SQ and one guy who is guaranteed to be with us.

"Boan is a big, strong, physical specimen of a player, so I think he’s going to fit in really well with how we play and what we do.

“South Africans, from my experience, are very hard working, very honest, very physical. The South African market is a bit tricky at the moment because of what is happening with Super Rugby.

“Look, he’s a big man. He’s 120kilos, he’s very physical and has a very tough mind-set. And whether you like it or not, that’s the game, so we need people who want to be very physical.

“And he loves to scrum and he loved to play the way we approach the game, so I think he’s a very good fit for us.”

On the Edinburgh players' performance in the Calcutta Cup victory

"I am very proud of the way the Edinburgh boys did with Scotland. The Edinburgh boys did very well.

"From day one, i had thought Scotland had a lot of very good players. I think they are playing in a style that suits them. I think we are good enough to take teams on up front, both set piece, line out drive, our scrum.

"Our ball carrying is very good and we have the right people to do that. We use the players and the quality we have really well. Scotland were the better team.

"They didn’t let England settle. Scotland were the better team. There should be no complaints from anybody. Scotland were the better side.

"I work with the Edinburgh players and part of my job is to develop them to play for Scotland. In the Edinburgh environment we give a really good opportunity for guys to step up and play for their country.

"Our biggest selling point in recruiting some of our guys is that it gives them the best opportunity to put their best foot forward and play for Scotland. Hopefully we have created the environment to do that."

On younger players stepping up after the 'A' game against Glasgow Warriors

“It was just good to see some of those guys play – Ben Muncaster, Connor Boyle captained the side, it was great to see them get exposure.

“Across the board, it was good to see guys playing, really. I don’t think there is many in that squad going to step-up and start this weekend.

"Damien Hoyland would obviously be one who comes straight into the mix, but it was just good to get guys playing rugby."

On the potential for more ‘A’ games

“Obviously during the Six Nations our squad is going to be a bit more stretched, so I think if the Covid continues then it is certainly something we’d look at to get more games for the fringe players."

On missing Zebre after a delay in Covid tests

“No. It was nothing to do with our processes, it was just that three tests didn’t come back. We’ve had a full clear round of testing this week, and it is just sometimes these things happen.

“I wasn’t too bothered about myself, it was more Blair not being available to go.

“I could watch it on telly. It makes it quite easy, you can have a glass of wine and watch the game, and not have to travel home!"

On Blair Kinghorn returning from Scotland camp

“Blair is unavailable because he’s got a wrist injury. We’re hoping that he will be available for Munster next week. Hopefully along with some other guys with it being a fallow week.

"It has been tricky with player release for non-23 et cetera, losing our guys for long period. But with the fallow weeks and the bubble not being quite as solid as it was in Autumn, we hope to get a few guys back to play.”

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