Al Kellock has described Richard Cockerill as an “outstanding character who will get the best from his team” as Edinburgh Rugby get ready to play their first match under the guidance of the English head coach this evening.
The capital outfit are taking on Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks in their first pre-season friendly at Meggetland (7:35pm) and the rugby public in the city are eager to see if Cockerill can turn fortunes around. One man who believes he can is ex-Scotland captain Kellock who played more than 50 games for Edinburgh between 2002 and 2006.
“I have met with Richard since he moved up to Edinburgh and he comes across as an outstanding character who is driven and motivated to get the best out of the current group of players at the club,” the 36-year-old said at a Royal Bank of Scotland Rugby Force event in Alloa last weekend.
“He was a combative player who got the best out of the talents he had by going on to play for England whilst his coaching record over the years at Leicester Tigers was good.
“He seemed to create a positive culture at Leicester and I feel he can do the same at Edinburgh. They have a good mix of experienced and younger players and I am hopeful that Richard can get them going.
“Last season they were on the wrong end of a number of tight games, but with Richard and a good group of coaches leading them they may well be able to turn that around in the coming months.” New signings Darryl Marfo, Jason Harries and Darcy Graham all start for Edinburgh in the Sale clash.
Fellow new arrivals Hugh Fraser, Callum Hunter-Hill and Ally Miller could debut from an extended bench that features BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players Jason Baggott, Luke Crosbie and Ross Dunbar.
Scotland Sevens players Dougie Fife, Jamie Farndale and James Johnstone are also amongst the replacements while Cammy Fenton is on trial. Following their call-ups to the Scotland training squad, Anton Bresler, Jamie Ritchie and Phil Burleigh all start.
Cockerill said: “We’ve been working hard for the last nine weeks so it’ll be great to get out on the field and fire some live bullets for the first time. We’ve got to start putting our bodies on the line and seeing where the team is at.”
Sale included Scotland cap Josh Strauss and former Glasgow centre/wing Byron McGuigan in a 30-man squad.
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