Edinburgh Rugby head coach Richard Cockerill has moved to calm supporters fears about the quality of the squad for 2018/19 after it was announced that three Scotland internationalists will be moving on this summer.
Last week fans were digesting the news that the club looks set to be moving home grounds once again away from Myreside and now they are taking in the news that big names Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Cornell du Preez and Duncan Weir are heading for the exit door along with Welsh stand-off Jason Tovey.
Such news may take some supporters minds off the fact that the team on the pitch has been steadily improving this term, 12 win in the last 15 in all competitions setting them up for some big Guinness PRO14 and European Rugby Challenge Cup matches to come.
“We are looking to build the squad over the next three, four or five years to have some continuity and build some strength so we are able to compete,” Cockerill said.
“This is not about any one individual and if nothing changes then nothing will change. When I arrived this team had not done well in years so something had to change. Now we have changed things I feel we are moving in the right direction.
“We are playing a good brand of rugby, we are bringing through some good young Scottish lads, we are getting the best out of what we’ve got and I am excited about the future.”
Certainly in the cases of scrum-half Hidalgo-Clyne and No.8 Du Preez, they seem to have wanted more money than Edinburgh’s budget can afford.
Hidalgo-Clyne has been with Edinburgh since he came up through the youth ranks and he recently played his 100th game for the club.
The 24-year-old has nine Scotland caps.
Du Preez has played nearly 100 games in the black and red since arriving early in the 2013/14 season and has six Scotland caps so far after qualifying through residency.
The 26-year-old South African-born player started for Scotland against Wales just over a week ago, but was dropped for the France clash.
“We put an offer on the table to Sammy [Hidalgo-Clyne], but we couldn’t get to a point where we were both happy, so we move on and we look to build the squad. It is professional sport – people move on,” Cockerill said.
“We’ve got to make sure we get that backline balanced along with the forward pack.
“And Cornell won’t be staying with us.
“He is a very valuable player in the market place – he’s a ball carrier who commands a decent salary – so we’ve decided that the money can be spent across the group.
“Obviously, we’ve got some young guys coming through and the emergence of Viliame Mata has been good and our budget is our budget.
“So, unfortunately, from a financial point of view, it is not possible for us to come up with the sums of money that these sorts of players demand.”
On Weir, who has had an injury-ravaged couple of seasons in the Capital, Cockerill added: “We have Simon Hickey coming to play stand-off [in the summer] and Jaco van der Walt has come in and done well, so a cost comes with those two and we don’t need three 10s because there is not enough space at the table playing wise or financially.”
So with spaces freed up in the squad for 2018/19, could Edinburgh be about to re-sign Scotland centre Matt Scott?
He was a fans favourite between 2011 and 2016 and has been told he can leave by Gloucester, but Cockerill is remaining tight lipped.
“I’m not in a position to confirm that at this point,” he said.
“But we’re looking to strengthen the squad – we’re looking to strengthen the backline and hopefully there will be some positive news around quality players coming into the team soon.
“The squad will be smaller next year, but I think it will be a better quality.”