Cockerill’s Edinburgh Won’t Be ‘Plucky Losers’

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the capital side head coach looked back at the loss to Ulster, gave an update on squad injuries and discussed why Edinburgh need to keep their composure against Connacht this week.

Cockerill still took away some positive points from Edinburgh’s narrow loss to Ulster (Photo: The Times website)

Edinburgh can learn from Ulster loss

Edinburgh suffered an agonisingly close loss to Ulster at the weekend as John Cooney kicked a winning penalty for the home side in the 81st minute, giving them the 30-29 win.

Cockerill chose to not dwell on the last-minute kick however: “I thought we played really well. Ever since I have been here I have said this side needs to develop.

“We got into new territory on Friday. We went to a good team and instead of going behind and clawing our way back in, we actually played really well and took the lead. I think we surprised ourselves.”

Cockerill then explained: “Even when we went behind the momentum was well against us, but we kept into the game and got back into the lead. We could easily have won that game.”

However, Cockerill acknowledges that his team is still one which is under development: “I think we’ve got to still keep a measured view on expectations of where we’re at.” He added: “Nothing’s fixed in 14 or 15 months but I still think we’re a better side now than the one that finished the season.

However, with this comes tougher competition for Cockerill’s side: “So we’ve got to realise that every time we play people will put their best team out knowing that if they don’t they run the risk of getting turned over.

“So, we wanted respect, we’ve got it, now we have to deal with making sure we play better so that we deal with the consequences of teams taking us more seriously.”

Injury woes will take an effect

The game against Ulster also included a worrying scene as Mark Bennett was stretchered off the field with a painful looking injury to his leg.

Yesterday, Cockerill confirmed: “He will have a scan today, so we will know in the next 24 hours, but clearly it is something quite significant. The extent of that we don’t know yet.

“He is on crutches. At the moment we think – it is yet to be confirmed – that he has ruptured his hamstring at the very top. Similar to the one Tom Brown had last year.”

Cockerill also addressed the controversy that the incident, which injured Bennett, has garnered: “Mark is over the ball, one guy tries to clean him and does not quite get him and then he gets cleaned again and gets caught with his leg straight and got bent into a position where he got past his flexibility. Something had to give and it was his hamstring.”

Cockerill reiterated his belief that there was no malice in the action: “Nothing wrong with the clean-out – it was unfortunate, purely bad luck.”

Recognising the poor luck of Bennett – who has not long returned from a previous knee injury – Cockerill said: “It is just one of those…His knees are fine – whoever put the grafts in did a good job because the hamstring went before the knees did.”

Other players who picked up some knocks were Henry Pyrgos and Bill Matta. Cockerill addressed both: “He [Pyrgos] has a minor knee knock, he’s fine. He should be fine for the weekend.”

Meanwhile: “Bill got a bang on his shoulder. We are still assessing that, but he may struggle to be fit for this week, we’ll see.”

Composure is crucial for Connacht clash

This week, in their first home game of the season, Cockerill’s men come up against Connacht who will just be off the back of a convincing 32-13 win over Zebre. And he will be looking for a strong performance to secure the much-needed winning bonus point.

Cockerill noted: “All those points are going to be important in the mix-up. The two points we’ve got will be important, but the three we left behind in Ulster will be huge. We’ll get to a stage where we get to knockouts and that might be the difference between being third, being in Europe, being fourth, being second.

“All those points are important, so we’re at home and Connacht are not dissimilar to ourselves as a club and we need to make sure we play really well.”

However, he does not want his players to become distracted by the thinking that this is a “must-win” game.

“We just can’t look at the end result, because I don’t think we’re a team that can just think about results. We have to make sure we keep playing well and developing that mentality. But the plucky losers bit I don’t like and being the victim I don’t like.”

Ultimately, Cockerill has no immediate concerns for the future of his squad: “I’m happy with where we’re at, at the moment from a club point of view. The table’s the table, it will look after itself.

“We’ve just got to keep playing, performing and making sure we’re consistent in our training and consistent in our playing and hopefully we’ll get that.”

Edinburgh v Connacht at BT Murrayfield kicks off at 7:35pm this Friday 14th.

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