Edinburgh Rugby centre Phil Burleigh admits the players owe a positive result to acting head coach Duncan Hodge – and he says the team are desperate to get a much-needed win on Friday night away to Leinster in the Guinness PRO12.
Last week’s 24-18 loss away to Ulster means that Edinburgh have won just once in their last six league outings and are sitting ninth in the table with just four victories from 14 to their name.
A very poor showing in the first half in Belfast was to be the catalyst of their downfall last Friday and, with Hodge’s long-term future still in the balance, Burleigh knows they owe him a big performance in Dublin.
The 30-year-old Kiwi said: “We have been pretty disappointed with the last two weeks. We have gone close to taking out top sides, but just fallen short and now we have to prove that we can beat these types of teams and deserve a spot in the top half of the table.
“This Leinster game is so important, the boys know that. You look around at full-time in the last two weeks [the defeats to Munster and Ulster] and everyone is very disappointed because we are putting in so much effort, but coming out on the wrong end of things.
“It is not that we are playing bad rugby – we just need to sort out little areas that are not quite clicking.
“Holding on to the ball for long periods of time has been a problem and those mistakes have seen us having to make a lot of tackles in defence. That has been taking a lot out of the boys. There were definitely a few sore bodies after the Ulster game and we are putting too much pressure on ourselves at times.
“Duncan Hodge has done a great job, to be honest. If you see the way we are attacking now we are doing some brilliant things and, with a young group of guys for the rest of the season, I only hope we can put a bit of form together for him and fellow coaches Stevie Scott ad Pete Wilkins and get wins on the board.
“We know that we have a big European match at the end of March, but that is not on our minds at all. All we are thinking about now is getting better in the PRO12.”
With Hodge’s long-term future still up in the air many supporters are concerned that Edinburgh are way behind in the transfer market compared to other sides around Europe.
As a result, the Edinburgh fans were delighted to hear yesterday that Mark Bennett, the Scotland centre, will be arriving from Glasgow Warriors this summer.
And Burleigh, whose own contract runs until the end of 2017/18, is delighted to see someone of Bennett’s calibre coming on board.
“It is awesome. It is nice to have another centre coming in here and someone with international experience who has proven himself,” Burleigh stated.
“He has a pretty tough edge to him – a lot of players who have played international rugby do. He has a lot of experience and he runs some great lines. His experience will be huge for the young guys here.
“He will bring a different side to things in our backline and will probably make my job a bit easier as a 12 because he loves the ball in hand.
“Like Duncan [Weir] he is coming from Glasgow where they have a slick backline so I am sure he will be confident coming in here that he can make his mark.”