Same old Richard Cockerill, NEW Year. If Edinburgh’s head coach did not do a bit of strategic warfare in the run-up, it would not be an 1872 Cup match – and he dropped a few of his favorite verbal bombs at the team announcement yesterday when he denied the suggestion that his team was heading into the game from a better position than their opponents.
“It’s Edinburgh against Glasgow, so we’re definitely not the favorite,” he said. “The reality is they are a good team. They still have a bigger budget than Edinburgh, so they should have a good squad. I don’t think Glasgow is a bad team in any way shape or form. They should be drawing from deep because they have a deep squad and some very good players.”
Head coach Danny Wilson of the Warriors does not see it quite that way. In reality, he spoke at length earlier in the week about the number of players he’s currently missing because of injury or Covid – but Cockerill had none of them.
“It sounded during the week like Danny was bringing in his excuses, wasn’t it?” he answered. “We never thought this was an easy game or an easy win as a group here – both players and coaches. We admire them. They are a good team of really good players.
“They’ve had a few absences just like us, but they’re a really good forward squad. Huw Jones, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Ratu Tagive, Brandon Thomson, Ali Price, the back line, they’re pretty solid.
We both need points,” he added. “To ensure that we keep in contact with the second and third teams, we both urgently need points. I don’t think a top spot for either team would be realistic, but we want to be successful and win every match.
For his part, Cockerill will field almost a full squad, with the apparent exceptions of long-term injuries such as Grant Gilchrist and Damien Hoyland. That means that after resting for the last away game against Sale Sharks two weeks ago, Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Henry Pyrgos all return. The props have been rotated, with Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel starting at loose-head and tight-head respectively
“We have pretty much all the players available and have had a full week of training,”We have almost all the players available and have had a full week of training. “We just need to get our own stuff in order and make sure we perform as well as we can because we know we are good enough to win every game.”
Edinburgh delivered their best season result against Sale, picking up an impressive away win against one of England’s top teams, but Cockerill said he had little qualms about subsequently dropping young men Jack Blain and Charlie Shiel to accommodate his returning internationals.
“It’s important to give guys chances and develop young players, and they’ve done well, but ultimately you pick what you think is good enough to win the next game,” he said. “We need the points in the league, but at the same time I want to develop the young players.”
J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (co-captain); P Schoeman, S McInally (co-captain), W Nel, B Toolis, J Hodgson, J Ritchie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: M Willemse, R Sutherland, S Berghan, A Ferreira, M Bradbury, N Groom, N Chamberlain, J Johnstone.