Andy Irvine backs Edinburgh to bounce back and fill Myreside

Scotland and Lions legend Andy Irvine has faith that head coach Richard Cockerill can inspire a 'bounce back' by his Edinburgh players following Friday's shock home loss to Treviso, and believes the sold-out signs could yet be seen at Myreside before the end of the season.

Marcus Bradbury holds his head in despair after Edinburghs defeat by Treviso last Friday, but Andy Irvine, inset, believes Myreside crowds will soon be seeing regular home victories. Picture: SNS.
Marcus Bradbury holds his head in despair after Edinburghs defeat by Treviso last Friday, but Andy Irvine, inset, believes Myreside crowds will soon be seeing regular home victories. Picture: SNS.

Irvine is continuing in his ambassadorial role as chairman of the capital pro team and made no bones about the fact the 20-17 loss to the Italians was a “bitter blow” but feels it is too soon to be panicking. Edinburgh started the Guinness Pro14 in positive fashion with a 20-10 win at Cardiff and 35-18 downing of the Dragons to have them on the verge of a first five in a row in the championship (when adding in the victories over Dragons and Glasgow at the end of last season) since 2009.

Despite a storming start, in which Edinburgh raced into a 14-0 lead through a brace by centre Chris Dean, old fragilities re-emerged as Treviso fought back to inflict a deflating defeat.

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“We’ve got to put our hands up, it was really really disappointing because there was obviously an expectation after a really good win down in 
Cardiff and a bonus-point over the Dragons,” said Irvine. “We maybe thought we had turned a corner. To go two tries up and be looking good it was disappointing.

“They could have won and maybe should have as they came back strong at the end. But it was still a pretty bitter blow.”

Irvine was an enthusiastic backer of the move from the glaringly unsuitable Murrayfield to Myreside in January, initially for a six-game trial which has now been extended for the next three seasons. Back then, the former Heriot’s and Edinburgh full-back predicted the George Watson’s ground could become an even more atmospheric venue than the one built by Glasgow at Scotstoun, due to the supporters being closer to the pitch.

Friday’s match attracted fewer than 3,500 for the second week running, more than 2,000 short of the capacity and well down on the regular 7,351 sell-outs for the Warriors. Glasgow have built that fortress over the years on the back of a successful team and Irvine said: “The players like Myreside and I know there was a lot done in the off-season to work on the pitch and off the field it is a much better stadium this season. All we need are a couple of good wins and I reckon there is a good chance we will get a couple of full houses before the end of the season.”

Edinburgh now face two daunting away trips to champions Scarlets and Irish heavyweights Leinster but Irvine is confident that if anyone can lift the players following Friday’s bitter disappointment it is new boss Cockerill.

“I spoke to Richard afterwards and the thing I admire about him is he is absolutely up front and honest. He just said that’s not good enough,” said Irvine. “I spoke to a few of the players too and, although gutted by the result, they are in quite a good a place. They’ve got a lot of respect for the new coaching set-up. We’ve got some tough games coming up but I believe they have it in them to bounce back.”

Irvine is realistic enough to know that turning Edinburgh from perennial under-achievers to genuine contenders is not going to be a quick fix and said: “We are obviously hopeful of a quick turnaround 
but it could easily take a season or two.”

He may not have had his best match last week but Irvine has been enjoying the emergence of 20-year-old Blair Kinghorn in his old position and believes there is a chance he could be seen in a Scotland jersey soon.

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“If you look at his performance in those first two games he’s definitely got the potential,” said the former SRU president. “He’s got to cut down on his mistakes. But I would far rather have a kid where you are looking to work on that rather than trying to drill some flair and pace into them. It’s much easier to eradicate mistakes than it is to have the X-factor in the first place. And he’s definitely got that.”