Ever since Richard Cockerill was appointed as Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach the fans in the capital have been eagerly awaiting his first match in charge to see if he can turn things around.
The former England hooker, who coached Leicester Tigers for over a decade, was appointed to the role back in February and after relocating from France where he was working with Toulon he has been running the rule over his new squad in recent weeks.
Next Friday they play Sale Sharks in a friendly at Meggetland before taking on Newcastle Falcons a week later in Melrose.
The first match in the new-look Guinness PRO14 comes away to Cardiff Blues on Friday, September 1 and Cockerill wants his team to hit the ground running.
Last year the team stuttered to just six wins in the Guinness PRO12 to finish ninth in the table while they were knocked out of the European Rugby Challenge Cup by La Rochelle in the last eight.
As a result Cockerill, 46, knows there will be “no quick fix”, but when he spoke to the press in central Edinburgh on Tuesday he was bullish and enthusiastic about the job in hand.
Here are five talking points from his first media briefing:
He wants to create a positive culture at the club – “I have never had had to build-up a club that has struggled in the past from a culture point of view, but that is the challenge here.”
The squad will certainly know what hard work is – “I want the players to understand what a proper training week works and how hard you have to work. For example if we play Friday and then Friday again then we will take Saturday as our day off and train Sundays. Whatever game day is we will work back and work the best training week and if that is Sunday then it is a Sunday we will train. I have a wife and three kids, I don’t really want to train on a Sunday but if that is best for performances then that is my job and is what we have to do.”
He is not scared to pick young players – “If I see a young player doing everything that is asked of him and performing well in training then I would have no problems picking him for the next match ahead of a more established guy, we need lots of hard work to take this club forward.”
Leadership issues will be sorted out – “There is not a lot of leadership within the team, and I don’t think that’s a secret to anybody. We’ve got to realise where we are at. I would like the younger players to step up and starts to take some leadership within the group so that there is good young Scottish core driving the team forward because I think that is important.”
He wants people in Edinburgh supporters to have pride in their team – “I want supporters to walk away from games saying ‘well we might have lost by five points, but didn’t our boys put a shift in which we didn’t always do last year’. That will help in terms of building an identity and getting a crowd to come and watch us – I wouldn’t want to watch a team that looks like they can’t be bothered.”
Richard Cockerill is pictured by David Gibson/FOTOSPORT
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