Edinburgh coach focused on Leinster '“ not new stadium

Edinburgh Rugby head coach Richard Cockerill wants to leave decisions about the club's long-term home to other people as he focuses on tonight's crucial Guinness PRO14 clash with Leinster (7.35pm).

Richard Cockerill says Edinburgh are a work in progress
Richard Cockerill says Edinburgh are a work in progress

However, the former England hooker does admit that “if we can get some roots down and have a permanent stadium in the near future we can start to build this club as Glasgow have”.

As revealed in this paper two days ago the Capital side are looking to construct a new home in the shadow of the national stadium.

And that could mean that the remaining games of this term being played at BT Murrayfield before switching to the back pitches on site when a fit-for-purpose ground is ready for use.

For tonight anyway the team are at Myreside, the ground owned by George Watson’s College and used by BT Premiership side Watsonians, as they look to get some more crucial league points under their belts.

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“This season we have made positive strides, we are improving as a club on and off the field,” Cockerill said.

“[Managing Director] Jonny Petrie and the backroom staff are trying to drive this place forward, make it better. If we can get some roots down and have a permanent stadium in the near future we can start to build this club as Glasgow have. This is the next stage for us.

“I am happy at Myreside, there are issues around that at times, but I am happy at Murrayfield as well. The least of our worries is where we play. We just need a permanent home we can make our own and be viable to play at.

“The details around what we are going to do is not for me to discuss, but we will concentrate on getting the best team we can on the field and playing as well as we can.”

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Edinburgh go into the match in fourth place in PRO14 Conference B against a Leinster side who are second in the same conference.

A victory is necessary for Edinburgh to keep on the coattails of third-placed Ulster and give themselves a boost as they aim to reach the play-offs. The significance becomes even more apparent given that they play Ulster in Belfast next weekend.

Since Edinburgh lost to Leinster in the reverse fixture back in late September they have won 11 out of 14 in all competitions, but tonight’s task is made all the harder because Edinurgh are without six squad members on Scotland duty and frontline players like Al Dickinson, Allan Dell, Darryl Marfo, WP Nel and Phil Burleigh are injured.

One player who does return, following a ban, is back-row John Hardie. He starts on the bench and Cockerill said: “It is good to have him back, but I didn’t really think about him starting. Jamie Ritchie has played very well and Luke Crosbie has also been really good. John has played 15 minutes of rugby in the last 14-15 weeks. Unfortunately he got a whack playing for Hawick [in the BT Premiership a fortnight ago]. John is very keen to make amends and get back on the field.

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“He will be important for us the next few weeks and he will be important in this game because he will give us a hard edge when he gets on the field”

With Blair Kinghorn named on the Scotland bench and set to make his debut against France on Sunday Dougie Fife switches to full-back for Edinburgh. Darcy Graham is on the wing as Damien Hoyland is struggling with a toe injury while Chris Dean is back at centre after a month out injured.

Having made his Scotland bow off the bench against Wales last week tighthead prop Murray McCallum starts.

Edinburgh: 15. Dougie Fife; 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Chris Dean, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Nathan Fowles; 1. Jordan Lay, 2. Cameron Fenton, 3. Murray McCallum, 4. Fraser McKenzie (c), 5. Lewis Carmichael, 6. Luke Crosbie, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Bill Mata. Subs: 16 Neil Cochrane; 17. Rory Sutherland; 18. Matt Shields; 19. Magnus Bradbury; 20. John Hardie; 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 22. Junior Rasolea; 23. Glenn Bryce