Press Pass with Cockerill: "We’ve got everything to play for"
Get the latest from Head Coach Richard Cockerill as he spoke with press in the build up to Saturday's 1872 Cup decider at BT Murrayfield.
Ever worried you wouldn’t be able to complete the season?
“We were always hopeful that we’d get back playing. We were disappointed we weren’t able to finish the season properly and test ourselves in those last eight games, but I think we’ve got the best situation that we possibly could have had.
We’ve earned the right to be where we are and now we’ve got the opportunity to get into a semi-final, and if we get it right we could earn a home semi-final.
“We’ve got everything to play for. We’ve still got a quarter-final in Europe as well. We enjoy playing Glasgow: if we can get past Glasgow and get enough points we’ll play against Ulster and who knows where we can get to.
“No-one knows. The Premiership was very sloppy and clunky at the weekend, so who knows how teams are going to hit the ground. We think we’ve done as best we can: we’ll see at 5.15pm on Saturday whether we’re ready to go or not.”
Are you comfortable with the favourites tag against Glasgow?
“Who told you that? Who said we were favourites? They’ve got a good side, we’ve got a good side; we know that it’s evened up over the last three years. We need a point to get to a semi-final, two wins will guarantee us a home semi-final depending on what Munster do, we’ve got it all in our own hands. We could qualify for a home semi-final and still go to Dublin - no-one knows.
“We’ve prepared as well as we can. Every team will have a few pre-season niggles. Glasgow are in a slightly different position to us: they play two games and the reality is they’ll then have a month before they start their season, so they’ll have a chance to prepare, whereas our season starts in earnest on Saturday and potentially we’ll play all the way through to June next year.”
Do you need a trophy to prove you’re superior to Glasgow?
“The games against Glasgow have always been pretty tight, and they swing on key moments in games. To win the PRO14 is getting harder and harder - look at what Munster have recruited over the summer, Leinster are always very strong, Ulster have recruited well over the summer as well.
“You need a bit of luck to win trophies. We’re potentially in a semi-final so we’re in with a shout. If you’re going to win the competition you’re mixing with the heavyweights. If we can get past an Ulster and a Munster or a Leinster to win a competition, we’ll have done pretty well. That sort of marks your arrival.
“But we’ve got a long way to go to do that. Glasgow are a very good side with a very good squad. We’ve got to make sure that we have the consistency we’ve had this season. We’ve got the chance to see if we can hit the ground running and compete with the big boys.”
Do you still like having that underdog tag?
“We're not a team with a huge history of success, are we?
“The reality is that we've done well for us but we haven't won any trophies and we haven't got any historic silverware in the cabinet.
“We just need to keep our feet on the ground and keep building what we're doing.
“Glasgow have won the competition. They've been in finals and semi-finals so they have that bit of pedigree that we don't have.
“We're building that. For us to win our first piece of silverware would be huge but we're at least a couple of good sides away from doing that and Glasgow are a good side too.
“If anything it will be good preparation for a semi-final if we get there playing such a good side as Glasgow for a couple of weeks.
How much closer are you to winning trophies now than when you took over?
“We're miles better than when we started three years ago in terms of how we operate, the players we have, the squad and amount of internationals we have.
“We have a real group who believe what we're doing and buy into what Edinburgh is about. I think we're so much closer to being a successful side than we were. But we have to keep building that.
“What that looks like in the future with the financial situation with the world we're in is yet to be seen. But we have worked ever so hard to put ourselves in a position to contest at least the play-offs and give ourselves a tilt at being champions.
“I'm not going to underplay it. We've got to this point so why would you give it away easily now. We're going to go as hard as we can over the next two weeks. If we get to a semi-final which is hopefully likely, then we can throw everything at it. If we're the least favoured then great. It will suit us."
How is the squad currently coping with injuries?
"We've got a few bumps and bruises and a few strains that we probably won't pick this week but will be fit for the week after. Ben Toolis has had surgery on his shoulder over summer and that was delayed because of the Covid situation. We're pretty healthy, in pretty good nick. We will pick strong 23. We are looking forward to doing that and seeing what Glasgow bring.
“Toolis should be fit for the semi-final if we get that far. He just had a little bit of bone removed that was floating about in his shoulder. Nothing too serious. He had to delay that for several weeks because of the Covid situation.”
How do you feel about the preconceived notion that Edinburgh have the forward pack and Glasgow have the backline stars?
"I don’t mind it at all. What we’ve created is a team that can play in any conditions, and play any type of rugby. It allows us to play wide and fast and loose because we’ve got the players and the skillset to do it. If it’s pouring with rain and it’s a gale outside we’ll just embrace the conditions, kick the ball in the air and go and chase it, and have the appetite to go and defend and knock the teams over and play in the right areas, and attack their set-piece sand try to dominate them physically.
"So I don’t mind because if it’s generally if it’s windy and rainy for Glasgow they don’t like it because it ruins their game; if it’s nice and sunny and dry it’s great for them. But we can play both ways, and if we need to kick it then we’ll kick it. Even if it’s 25 degrees on Saturday and it’s slow ball then we’ll kick it because my job is to kick it, it’s as simple as that.
"The thing with Edinburgh is that we can play any style of rugby in any conditions because that’s how we’ve developed our game and because we have the players to do that. I’m more than happy with what we’ve got, and if people say we’re boring then great because we’ve won more games than we’ve lost.
"And when it was really rubbish weather we actually won all our games. They were tight and they were horrible but the win was ours. When the weather was nice we actually played some decent rugby and outscored Glasgow in the home game with a bonus point win, which was good to see. Others can say what they want – haters are always going to hate. If they don’t like us who cares?"