Vern Cotter impressed with Edinburgh’s improved scrummaging

Vern Cotter
Vern Cotter
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Former Scotland coach Vern Cotter has identified Edinburgh’s “aggressive” pack as a good test for his Montpellier side in next weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup Pool 5 opener at Altrad Stadium.

Cotter, who worked with many of Edinburgh’s players during his three years as Scotland head coach, is expecting a physical contest when the Scots visit next Saturday on their comeback to the elite European competition.

“I know them well,” said the Kiwi. “They’re strong up front, with a pack that works really hard on the fundamentals. I think under Richard Cockerill they’ve got better with their scrummaging, they’re very aggressive at the breakdown and they’re very good at forcing turnovers. Their three-quarter line is decent as well.

“Above all, they’re a good team with their pack up front, and so it will be up to us to find a way of matching their pack before trying to get our own game going.”

Cotter led Montpellier to the French Top 14 final in his first season, losing to Castres, and is expecting Pool 5 to be one of the most interesting sections in the Heineken Champions Cup group stage.

“When you look at our pool, you have Edinburgh and Newcastle, which are really close, and Toulon and Montpellier, which aren’t too far from one another either,” he said. “That means there will be a lot of fans travelling for these games. So from a geographical point of view it’s interesting. But these are going to be tough encounters; it won’t be easy.”

Montpellier’s talismanic skipper Louis Picamoles added: “We have a good idea of how they’ll play, their rugby DNA is very similar to other Scottish sides, and we faced Glasgow last season and saw what they were capable of , so we expect something similar.”