Press Pass: Munster up next

Press Pass: Munster up next

Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press ahead of Saturday's Guinness PRO14 match-up with Munster at BT Murrayfield.

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On his first impressions of the club's new stadium

“I was very impressed. We trained on it the last week or so and it’s a great surface. It’s the first time as a club we’ve had our own stadium which is branded in our own colours, so we’re delight do have it.

"It will be very good when we have the opportunity to sell tickets and play a game for the first time. So, it’s very exciting for us.

“It is good for identity and culture moving forward. We’ve got a pretty good home record at BT Murrayfield and now we can build on that.

"It's great to have a place at last which we can make our own and make it a place which is difficult for other teams to come and play."

On the players' reaction to the new stadium

“Yeah, they like it. It's nice and clean and springy. With the new rubber crumbs, it is great. The backs love it, the forwards are getting used to it.

"It's a lot quicker than playing on grass, which will suit us. And it is just about getting used to the weather conditions and where the wind comes in and out.

“It is a really good size – 7,800 seats – so we’ll be looking to sell it out and have an atmosphere which is a bit more intimidating than probably historically Edinburgh crowds have been.

“So, we’ve got to put a product on the field that is a winning one and one that people want to come and watch.”

On the stadium providing a morale boost for both the club and supporters

“It has been difficult for everybody in the world that we’ve been living in, and like everybody we want to get back to normality as soon as possible, so when we can have the opening of the stadium with a big team – to make it an event that the supporters can look forward to and be proud of – then we will.

‘We don’t want to be playing behind closed doors and the first impression of it is not the right experience of how we want the stadium to be.

“It is an investment in the club. We are trying to build this club to be bigger and stronger and here for another 150 years, so it has been a huge investment financially and emotionally to get to where we are today, and it shows that we are building the club in the right direction.

"We’re slowly building a strong squad on the field to become more successful and now we have a facility to match that, so when people come to watch us, whether they are home or away supporters they walk away with a positive experience of it."

On the new playing surface and adapting the way Edinburgh play

“I think it’ll make our game quicker. Even training on it this week, the GPS data shows we’re covering more metres and we’re running quicker for longer. That’s what the surface gives you.

“When we’ve played teams who have artificial surfaces there tends to be a bit more zip about those sides. It’s the way the game is going. The ball will be cleaner and drier and it’s a true surface with a little bit more spring in it.

“The quick guys will glide across the surface quicker and the bigger guys will feel like they are running quicker even when they’re not!”

On his changing opinion of artificial surfaces

“I’ve lived in Scotland long enough to know that if you have a grass pitch it’s going to be muddy most of the time. I think with the way modern surfaces are, and the way they’ve come on technology-wise, they’re getting better and better.

“Is it perfect? Probably not, but maintenance-wise, being able to use it to train on through the week and then play on it and have a guaranteed good surface all year round, it’s probably a necessity in this country. And it’s available for age-grade teams and other people to use, so it probably makes sense.

“The more we’ve used it and the more I’ve coached on it, it’s probably got easier for me to accept that it’s part and parcel of the professional game these days.

“The BT Murrayfield hybrid Desso pitch would always be my preferred choice but from a financial point of view the synthetic pitch makes sense and they’re getting better. They’re good surfaces and the boys enjoy playing on them.”

On players returning from Scotland camp

"Dave Cherry, Grant Gilchrist and Jaco van der Walt are all back.

“Darcy Graham has been released back but he is struggling with a thigh injury which will probably put him out for this week, but he should be available for the national team for the week after.

“Blair Kinghorn, we thought would be available but he’s still struggling with a wrist injury. None of our tight-heads are coming back, and the rest are starters."

On the club's tighthead options

“We have Murray McCallum and Lee Roy Atalifo. Dan Gamble is injured but we also have Angus Williams from Watsonians Super6 side, who has been training with us for the last few months.

“So we’ve got enough. That’s two international tightheads, for Scotland and Fiji, so we’ve got good coverage.”

On Simon Berghan's departure

“We have two tightheads who are away all year round [Berghan and WP Nel] and pro teams budgets are going to get smaller so we are just cutting our cloth to suit.

“We will bring another tighthead in but he will be with us all year round. We’re trying to get a balance across the squad.

“We’re losing two tightheads for large parts of the season and with budgets being smaller it doesn’t make sense to have two international tightheads - which is a well-paid position - not playing for you, effectively.”

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