Richard Cockerill says sunny weather suits Edinburgh as he takes issue with Scarlets coach
The Welsh side are third in Conference B of the Guinness Pro14, 11 points ahead of the fifth-place capital club who have two games in hand.
With five matches remaining, Cockerill is still confident his team can overhaul the Scarlets and secure the top three finish needed to qualify for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
Edinburgh are bolstered by the return of four Scotland players following the postponement of the Six Nations match with France. Lock Grant Gilchrist, winger Darcy Graham and stand-off Jaco van der Walt all start while hooker Dave Cherry is on the bench.
“It’s good to have Gilchrist back because second row is a position we’re light on at the moment and it’s good to get Darcy back because he’s a world-class winger and a threat and he needs a bit of game-time,” said Cockerill, who has moved back-rower Magnus Bradbury forward to partner Gilchrist at lock.
“I could have done with a tighthead but it wasn’t to be.”
Lee-Roy Atalifo wears the No 3 jersey for Edinburgh, with Gregor Townsend keeping Willem Nel and Simon Berghan back for Scotland following Zander Fagerson’s suspension.
Cockerill has targeted back-to-back victories in the Pro14, with a home fixture against bottom side Benetton up next after the Scarlets game.
“We need to win. We need to win the next two weekends to put us in a position to catch the teams above us. Then we’ve got Connacht, Cardiff and Dragons.
“We’re running out of games to catch up, so from now on in we need as many points as possible.
“Cardiff [currently fourth] and Scarlets are well within our sights if we win our games in hand.”
Cockerill was a little irked to read this week that Edinburgh had been described as a kicking team by Glenn Delaney, the Scarlets coach. The capital boss feels his players don’t get the credit they deserve sometimes and believes this afternoon’s sunny forecast will suit his side.
“I think it will suit both sides,” he said.
“I did read with amusement that Mr Delaney was saying that we were a set-piece and kick-chase team. When I looked at the stats the Scarlets kicked the ball 27 times on average per game, the second highest in the comp. We kicked the ball 22 times per game - we’re the lowest in the comp. So he can do one!
“Look, it feels like we’ve been playing in winter the whole time. There have not been many good days, home or away, for as long as I can remember. So it’ll be good to have not much wind, no rain and a decent surface at Murrayfield. I think it suits all teams.
“We trained this morning, the sun was out, it was a nice winter’s morning and it makes everybody a bit happier. Even Scots can smile in the sunshine!”