Cockerill: "We're up for the battle."
Head Coach Richard Cockerill wants Edinburgh to go in to ‘full blown battle’ as they face two-times European Champions Munster in the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final this weekend.
The capital said face the Thomond Park outfit at BT Murrayfield this Saturday (30 March, kick-off 12.45pm) in their first Champions Cup knockout fixture in seven years and Cockerill expects the match-up to be a tough encounter from the get-go.
“We’re going to go full blown into the battle and take them full on. We are going to enjoy the contest and see if we’re good enough to do it. We’ll try and out-Munster Munster, as we’re two sides that play quite similar rugby.
“We’re a good side and we’re probably set up for knockout rugby more than week-in, week-out rugby at the moment. We’ve got to learn to win. We’ve got to find a way to win, because that’s an important part of our development as a team, learning how to win and then grow our game from a more holistic sense. But we’ve got to win first.”
Edinburgh fell short against Munster in last year’s Guinness PRO14 Final Series Qualifier – the first post-season league appearance in the club’s history – while a youthful capital outfit were well beaten by the Irish side at Musgrave Park in November.
Despite those losses, and Edinburgh’s underdog status heading in to the can’t miss fixture, Cockerill insists that his side have the ability to cause an upset this weekend – if they get it right on the day.
“We’re a Scottish team, we’re best when we’re underdogs, it’s as simple as that,” said the Head Coach. “But we’re up for the battle. We’re not coming here to just fulfil the fixture.
“If we get it right we’ll beat them, but we’ve got to get it right and we’ve got to front up in these big games. We’ll be well prepared, have a lot of belief in what we do and we’re coming here to win.
“They’re a good side, aren’t they? They have all the European history. It’s part of the learning curve for us to play in all these big games. We’ve knocked off some big European teams. Munster are a big European team.
“It was tight – it was a four-point ball game,” he said of that PRO14 Final Series match against Munster in May of last year. “We gave away a loose try and a bit of [Simon] Zebo magic opened us up. But we played them at Independence Park earlier in the season and physically they battered us, they absolutely killed us. So we’ve got to make sure we match the physical aspects of their game.
While this is Edinburgh’s third appearance in the knockout-stages of European rugby’s premier competition, it is Munster’s 18th time in the last eight of the tournament.
Munster lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2008 and will be hungry for further European glory after finishing seven points clear of Pool 2.
“This is the 18th time they’ve been in the knockout stages. This is the third we’ve been here. They’ve won it twice. They will have ambitions of being European champions. We are still a team that is growing.
“Are we expected to win Europe? Do we have ambitions to win Europe? No, we don’t, because we’re not a good enough side.
“We’re building on that and coming here to win. I don’t want to give this opportunity away. I don’t want to be satisfied with thinking we’ve got to the quarters, we’ve done well. We have a good team and good players.”
“They’re used to winning games of this calibre. I’m not sure we are – yet. But this could be the starting point for us.”