Edinburgh aim to make it five from five on return home

Neil Cochrane says the players' morale is high as they prepare to face Ospreys at Myreside
Neil Cochrane says the players' morale is high as they prepare to face Ospreys at Myreside
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The off-field headlines that have dogged Edinburgh in the past few weeks have deflected attention slightly from the positive story of a burgeoning on-field confidence.

Head coach Richard Cockerill has been characteristically honest about the fact that wins over sides like a weakened London Irish, Russian minnows Krasny Yar and the Italian pair of Zebre and Benetton, welcome as they are, are not cause for an outbreak of back-slapping.

Nevertheless, the fact is that, in the midst of some unfortunate distractions, Edinburgh have put themselves in an excellent position to progress in the European Challenge Cup and within five points of the top three in Conference B.

On Saturday evening they return to Myreside to welcome an Ospreys side who have started poorly in the other conference, with five defeats plus another couple of losses in Europe.

Edinburgh hooker Neil Cochrane spoke of a confident mood in the camp ahead of a match which will mark the end of an opening chapter in the season before the international break and then the two-game trip to South Africa.

“Winning definitely breeds confidence and we are now four from four, including two good away wins in Europe,” said the 33-year-old. “We’re now very much looking forward to this weekend, going out there with confidence and playing some good rugby again.

“Winning the last four games, especially three away games, we are now very much looking forward to a home game. Hopefully we can take our away form back to Myreside.”

It remains to be seen how many Scotland squad players will be released back but Cochrane is used to being called on to step up for his hometown club during these periods.

“Of course. It’s obviously disjointed and you don’t know which players will come back until later in the week,” said the former Boroughmuir and Watsonians player. “That depends on selection with Scotland. But all we can do is focus and prepare ourselves the best we can.

“Those guys might come back later in the week and we are hopeful they will get up to speed relatively quickly.”

One of those Edinburgh team-mates who could be in line for a surprise cap this month is loosehead prop Darryl Marfo and Cochrane has been well placed to watch his progress since arriving at the club from Bath.

“He has worked very hard in pre-season,” said the hooker of his front-row colleague. “His attitude has been great. He’s got his head down and worked very hard and has taken on board everything that Cockers has given to us, with a lot of detail. He’s reaping the rewards for all that hard work.

“As a prop, first and foremost, the set-piece is massive. He has certainly shown that he can scrummage and his game around the park is improving week on week. I’ve got all the confidence that he will do well and do himself justice.”

Cochrane is in a similar position to new captain Fraser McKenzie - a senior figure at the club who has also skippered the team in the past but less likely to be involved when all the front-line players are available.

The hooker said that his lock mate McKenzie had already put his stamp on the role after replacing Magnus Bradbury, who lost the captaincy after injuring himself on a drunken night out early last month.

“He [Fraser] is driving high standards,” said Cochrane. “Even out on the training pitch. Sometimes it’s just small things; he’s very particular with the details. He speaks well also and he has definitely brought an edge to the team and boys are on their toes. They know what he expects and they are working hard to deliver it.”

Cochrane agreed that the off-field issues had galvanised the squad to pull together and look to deliver on the pitch.

“The bottom line is that the best thing we can do as a rugby team is win games of rugby,” he said. “That was the most important focus in Russia. The night before that game [after the news broke of flanker John Hardie’s suspension] we had a meeting, just players, and said that the best thing for Edinburgh Rugby now was for us to get a result and move the club forward. hat’s what we did.

“That’s all we can do. All we are focused on is moving the club forward on the pitch.”