Richard Cockerill in combative mood as he prepares Edinburgh for Glasgow
“The Edinburgh players can be quite nice. Those rough Glaswegians are a bit different'
The 1872 Cup derbies may have had a slightly cosy feel to them at times but Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill is not a man to take any stock of that.
Since his arrival in the Scottish capital, the former England hooker has never missed an opportunity to get under Glasgow’s skins and is looking ahead to this Saturday evening’s clash at Scotstoun with clear relish.
“We want it to be hard, we don’t want to compromise ourselves by being too nice,” said Cockerill. “The Edinburgh players can be quite nice, polite public schoolboys. Those rough Glaswegians are a bit different to us so we want to make sure we won’t be intimidated, we want to be physical.”
Cockerill was keen to heap a bit of pressure on to the SRU referee selected to officiate on Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 encounter as Ben Blain takes the whistle.
“We have a relatively inexperienced referee, I think it’s only his sixth Pro14 game, so there will be some pressure on him,” said the Edinburgh coach.
“Glasgow, notoriously, especially at home, they complain a lot and they appeal a lot. There is a lot of shouting and whinging especially from nine, ten and two.”
That presumably refers to George Horne, Adam Hastings and Fraser Brown, and Cockerill added: “We will get on with our game. We don’t give many penalties away but it is going to be vital.”
Blain is a Cumbrian who joined the Scottish referees programme in 2016.
“He’s an Englishman so he is bound to be good,” said Cockerill mischievously.
Let the mind games begin.
“Everybody is under pressure to win games,” added Cockerill. “We are a third of the way into the season so there are lots of games to go and lots of twists and turns around Six Nations selections and all those things... and who you play during those periods as well.
“I don’t think there is pressure on either team, they [Glasgow] are used to winning and they are used to being more comfortable in the league. We are not overly used to winning and we are never comfortable in the league!
“We are comfortable with where we are at on our improvement curve, we are playing some good rugby and the depth of our squad is good. As ever, the sum of our parts is far more important than the individual.
“The collective is far more important to us as Edinburgh – as far as individual players go we have some very good quality but our togetherness and us playing as a one unit is more important than individuals.”
Edinburgh come in to the inter-city double header off the back of excellent back-to-back wins over Wasps home and away in the European Challenge Cup.
Cockerill reported that full-back Blair Kinghorn is available for Saturday’s match but veteran flanker John Barclay will miss out as he still goes through concussion protocols.
“I will pick what I think is the best team to win this weekend,” said Cockerill. “There may be a little bit of change from last week because there were nine changes in that team [that won 9-7 at Wasps] but I have more than 15 good players, the back row in particular.
“I think we have shown that if we rotate the team we can still win and that builds trust in players that come in and would not necessarily be front-line players but have played very well. They will get the opportunity again. The reality is that where possible I will pick the best team to beat Glasgow.”
Cockerill has rewarded promising young centre George Taylor with a new contract, although the period of the deal was not disclosed.
“He has had an opportunity this year to get more starts than he thought he would because of injuries,” said Cockerill of the 23-year-old Borderer. “He has come through the academy and has taken his opportunity. He now has the chance to stay longer and keep playing and do it on a more regular basis.
“It is more than a one-year contract. The key part is when you get the opportunity you have to take them. He has had his opportunity and taken it.”