Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill won’t be drawing on the Scotland v England factor in the build up to Friday’s crunch Heineken Champions Cup pool match against Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield.
The former England hooker has enjoyed a bit of Anglo-Scottish banter since arriving in the Capital last summer but insisted that proving a point against a Gallagher Premiership outfit won’t be a motivating element going into the pivotal double header, with a trip to Kingston Park following a week on Sunday.
“Not really. I think like anything you’ve got to get past the emotional part and just play good rugby. It’s not about beating the English, it’s nearly Scotland anyway isn’t it, Newcastle, isn’t it part of the Borders? I shouldn’t say that,” said Cockerill with a smile.
“It’s not about being English and Scottish it’s about being a good team. So if we’ve got to motivate our boys by saying ‘hate the English’ it’s not what we’re about.
“We’re about being a good team and being good pros and making sure we get a good performance. There’s only so many times you can tap into the emotional bucket to drag it out of them.
“We just want to be good. I don’t care who we play against and what nationality they are, I’m not fussed. I hate anyone not playing for Edinburgh, it makes no difference to me whatever nationality they are. We’ll concentrate on being as good as we can be.”
Newcastle lie bottom of the English Premiership this season, despite winning a third of their nine games so far, the last of which was a 16-14 away success at Northampton on Saturday.
The Falcons top the Champions Cup Pool 5 table, however, on eight points ahead of second-placed Edinburgh on six. The Tynesiders have beaten Toulon away and Montpellier at home, while Edinburgh took a losing bonus point from the latter and thumped the former at BT Murrayfield in their most recent European outing.
Cockerill is pleased to welcome a swathe of international stars back this Friday after a trying few weeks in the Guinness Pro14, working with a weakened squad.
“It’s Christmas come early,” said the coach. “It’s good to get everybody back in, for obvious reasons. They’re all fit and healthy, which is good.
“For the last six weeks we’ve not had them. It’s nice to have a full complement that you can pick from, and you can prepare properly and have a proper training week and have everybody here.
“It’s a big couple of weeks – it’s a big eight weeks. There’s some big fixtures coming in the next eight weeks across the board.”
Cockerill is expecting Edinburgh to be reunited with their controversial former flanker John Hardie, now at Falcons.
Cockerill faced an early test of his mettle at Edinburgh last year when the 16-times capped international openside was suspended for “gross misconduct” and was suspended by the club. He returned later in the season but was released in the summer.
The New Zealand-born 30-year-old was snapped up by Newcastle on a short-term deal at the end of October and, while not currently listed in the Falcons’ European squad, is likely to be rotated in this week after impressing for the Kingston Park outfit in recent weeks.
“He’s a very tough tackler and he’s very good over the ball. He has a good engine and just keeps going for the full game,” said Cockerill of his former charge.