Press Pass: Ulster preview
Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press in the build up to Saturday night's Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup match-up with Ulster.
On training this week
“As soon as we got notification that we had a positive case we shut down training and went into the protocols around testing everybody and finding close contacts.
"We haven’t been able to train a huge amount, and with injuries and unavailabilities we’ve been a bit short of numbers.
“But we’ve prepared as well as we can, and on paper it’s a decent enough team. So we keep moving on with it, really.”
On Lions being named to play
"Yeah we had a bit of discussion round that. Obviously Rory Sutherland is still not quite ready to play and Hamish has been rehabbing a groin issue that has cleared itself up and Duhan has always got little niggles.
"They didn’t play the last game, they would prefer not to play in the Scarlets game because we play on a Sunday and they (Lions) meet up on a Sunday and they will be training on the Monday so it makes sense they both play now because they are fit and they need game time.
"They don’t want to be undercooked. Yeah, there were discussion over what is best and making sure they are in the best position to go to the Lions and ready to put their best foot forward to get in the Test team.
"The players want to play 80 minutes because they need the time. If we have any issues, or either of them feel compromised, or feel they have done enough to put themselves in a position to go to Jersey ready to go then, certainly in Hamish’s case, I will be probably be looking at looking after him because he certainly plays in a position that is attritionally a little bit harder than Duhan’s shall we say."
On younger players getting game time
“Harry Paterson has been injured for a little bit this year and hasn’t been available for selection. He’s a really good young player who will play in the 20s. It’s just a really good opportunity to give him that exposure and see where he’s at.
“Patrick Harrison has had a little bit of time with us, but this is his first start. That’s really good for him, in a big game, with good players around him as well, which is always helpful.
“It’s Ben Muncaster’s second start. He’s had a bit of time off the bench and he’s another guy who will be with the 20s in the summer.
“It’s just a good opportunity to give them some exposure. The season’s dead for both teams, so getting a balanced squad for lots of reasons and putting some young guys in there to get their opportunity with some experienced guys around them is really helpful.”
On Harry Paterson
"He has good attacking instincts and skill set. He played at fly-half 'till he was 16, played wing and full back for the 18s, is a pretty good goal kicker as well.
"He has impressed in training and has a great attitude to apply himself in working hard to get better. He throughly deserves his opportunity.
"With all these young guys coming into the first team environment for the first time we tend to look after their physical development a little bit, we take close notice of it and we don’t push them too hard.
"He has had a couple of niggles getting use to the volume and content of training and now he is over that and back in the mix. We hope he kicks on with the 20s in the summer and kick on with us and be part of our squad next year."
On Super6 players being involved
"Cammy Hutchison and Harri Morris are both involved. Cammy has been training with us a while and is a little bit older than most.
"He is 23. I want to have a look at him. He has played very well at 20s, very well at Heriot's last year and he is looking for an opportunity and i want to see him in a match environment.
"Harri Morris, we had to call up from the 20s because he is joining us next year in the academy. He is a tough nuggety seven but we haven't got anybody else available. Not that he isn’t a great kid with a great attitude. He joined us yesterday for the first time."
On expectations for Ulster
“Just application and mentality to want to play ball in hand, and physically be on top of it. They’ve picked a good side. They’ve had their own issues the last couple of weeks the same as ourselves.
“Yes, just commitment to the task and making sure that we put our best performance on the field. Whether that’s good enough to win or not we’ll have to see, but there’s some young guys that will have to step up.
“Ben Toolis hasn’t played for five months. That’s a big ask for him to step in and start, but he’s a quality player when he’s up to speed.
“So, yeah, just making sure we get a good performance and give a good account of ourselves.”
On leaving BT Murrayfield
"Next year we will be starting in a new stadium so it will be a new start for us in lots of ways.
"We will be parking this season and the trials and tribulations of that and looking forward to a new stadium, and getting fans back in hopefully, and keep developing the club and its game as we did in the first three years.
"This year has been difficult, there is no mistaking that and we need to press the reset button in the summer and we need to revisit some of the things that has made the club so good in the first three years of being together.
"We will be happy to be in a new stadium, getting more identity and building a club and building out supporters base is fundamental to what the club is going to be based on in the future."