Champions Cup is still Edinburgh's aim - Duncan Hodge

Duncan Hodge says that his Edinburgh team will not give up in their quest to qualify for the European Champions Cup next season '“ despite the fact that they are currently 17 points off the pace and have played at least one more game than the three teams they must leapfrog to achieve that objective.
Edinburgh head coach Duncan Hodge. Picture: SNSEdinburgh head coach Duncan Hodge. Picture: SNS
Edinburgh head coach Duncan Hodge. Picture: SNS

but we have another opportunity on Friday night, and then we’ve got two home games, so the big matches just keep rolling in.”

Hodge would not be drawn on his own position beyond the end of the current season.

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“At the minute I am helping plan everything. So we’re planning for next year as is, and someone will decide on myself,” he said.

Edinburgh take on Leinster at the RDS Showground this evening. The Irishmen are missing a raft of leading internationals – including centres Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, stand-off Jonny Sexton, props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong, and back-rows Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip – but have still been able to name 11 capped players in their side.

“It is a big challenge. They are a good team with a lot of resources, and it is probably what we need right now – to be testing ourselves against these best teams,” said Hodge, pictured.

“It’s about consistency and decision-making under pressure. Individuals just need to understand their own roles and think a bit more about game context – because there was times last week against Ulster when we played some great stuff and then let them off the hook with these little decision-making errors.”

Despite being chronically short of experienced leaders at the moment, there is no room in the Edinburgh side for former Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist, who has struggled to rediscover his best form after two injury-ravaged seasons.

“The other guys have played well but Gilco will get a good shot off the bench,” said Hodge. “He played a lot earlier in the season and probably by his own admission he didn’t play quite as well as he would have wanted, so we are just looking for a few things for him to improve on to get back to his best.”

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne gets the nod ahead of Sean Kennedy at scrum-half. He will line up alongside stand-off Duncan Weir, who has been released by Scotland. Glenn Bryce comes in at full-back in place of Blair Kinghorn.