Edinburgh Rugby coach Michael Bradley believes his side are capable of delivering a knock-out blow to Toulouse in today’s Heineken Cup quarter-final at Murrayfield.
The Irishman may be new to the European Cup during his seven years at Connacht but he steered the province into five quarter-finals and two semi-finals of the second-tier Amlin Trophy, so winner-take-all rugby is no new experience and his teams are renowned for playing full throttle in looking to score one more time than any opposition.
“Things DO change between the group and knock-out stages but that suits our team,” he said. “We would be perceived as dangerous but not consistent which suits us fine. We have a lot of belief in our ability remembering that defence wins matches as well.”
The former Test scrum half revealed he has been exercising contacts across the Irish Sea after Connacht were paired with Toulouse in this season’s tournament. My contacts at Connacht couldn’t provide direct help. It was more encouragement, saying things like they do certain things very very well.
“What it was more about was reinforcing the fact the information we have is correct,” said Bradley.
When France won a Six Nations clash in Edinburgh earlier this year visiting coach Phillipe St Andre partially ascribed the 23-17 success to the quality of bench cover available to him.
Regarding this afternoon’s clash, Bradley has opted to start with a back row comprising Dave Denton, Netani Talei and Ross Rennie which means a substitute role for Stuart McInally who claimed man-of-the-match honours when Edinburgh kicked off their campaign with a win at London Irish.
Such stand-by quality, the coach believes, strengthens his hand while acknowledging the difficulty of selection.
“Stuart wasn’t originally selected for the match at home to London Irish where we clinched qualification but came in when Dave Denton pulled out 20 minutes beforehand and did well. I am delighted as a coach to have quality players like Stuart and Roddy Grant on the bench and we have no fear about having to turn to our subs if we have to.”
A real boost this week has been the nomination of Netani Talei, who has been holding off McInally for a starting role, as one of 13 candidates long-listed for European player of the year.
Greig Laidlaw is also quoted and Bradley said: “It well deserved for both Netani and Greig. Greig has been outstanding in a lot of areas.
“Netani has excelled with his ball carrying, footwork and work-rate – all fantastic.”