Richard Cockerill was on standard straight-talking form when he said Edinburgh would be around the bottom of the pile if they were playing in England’s Premiership.
Considering they have been flirting with the basement of their own competition regularly in the past few years that could actually be as close to a bit of sugar-coating as you’re likely to get from the lunt Englishman as there is an argument for saying his new club might not even be good enough to be in the Aviva Premiership.
“I think Edinburgh would be in and around that group of teams – the Gloucesters and the London Irishes,” said Cockerill. “The [Aviva] Premiership seems to be a top six and a bottom six. With the budgets that we work on, and where we are at the moment, we’re not a dissimilar side to London Irish.”
Fortunately for Edinburgh and Cockerill, it is London Irish, who lie second bottom in the English top flight, they face on Saturday in Reading to kick off their European Challenge Cup campaign.
After a 16-15 home win over Zebre took their Guinness PRO14 record to won three, lost three, Cockerill was asked if the squad were relishing the switch to a competition in which they have recently overperformed compared to their bread-and-butter domestic duties.
“We’re a cup team, you mean?” said the coach with a smile. “I think the emphasis on Europe is good in either competition. The club have enjoyed good cup runs over the last ten years or so, and been to a final in this competition recently [losing to Gloucester in 2015].
“London Irish have had a tough start to the season, as we have. They’re a good team to play against, good stadium to go to, good pitch – I think the boys are looking forward to it. They had a bit of a spring in their step today; they were happy with the win at the weekend.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do in the league, we’ve got two big games after this – and a road trip to Russia in between. It’s interesting times.”
Cockerill is counting the cost of another bruising encounter at Myreside last Friday against the Italian side.
He said: “It was not ideal with [full-back Blair] Kinghorn going off very early. [Centre] James Johnstone had a nasty knock to the head – he’s okay and he’s recovering well. Blair’s got quite a nasty laceration on his knee from a blade when he was making a tackle.
“We’re okay. We’ve got a few bumps and bruises, but no more than they got. We’ve got a good squad and we’ll use it this weekend.”