Grant Gilchrist says he wants this to be a “statement” season for Edinburgh in which the capital club establish themselves as a major force in the Pro14.
Richard Cockerill’s side take on Munster in Cork tomorrow night, and their experienced second-row says it is the sort of game the team must look to win if they want to realise the potential they have shown in flashes in recent years. “This was always going to be a huge game,” said Gilchrist, pictured.
“We knew it was coming up in the calendar. We are under no illusions as to its importance for our section of the league – it is a chance for us to close the gap on first place. We want to be in the play-offs at the end of the season and Munster are ahead of us, so this a great opportunity for us to go out there and put ourselves in a great position in the league.
“It is a double-pointer. Munster are top dogs in our pool at the moment so if we can go out there and get a result then we are making a serious statement that we are contenders for the play-offs.”
Gilchrist admits that the pain of Scotland’s recent World Cup flop has not left him but insists that he has had no problem refocusing on club duty since returning from Japan.
“I don’t need any more motivation to play for Edinburgh,” he stated. “I love the club and the direction we are going in, and I see this as our statement season. We’ve had a couple of years where we have shown a bit of growth, and now we need to deliver this year. So big games like Friday night are how you go about that, by going across to a place like Munster and getting a result.
“[We have] the quality of players and the depth of squad. We’ve had a couple of years under Cockers developing how we play, and I think this year we have evolved a little bit.
“We look a much more balanced side in terms of what we have up front and across the back-line.
“We believe that in every game we play, we can win,” he continued. “But if you look at teams that have gone on to win silverware they haven’t just got there overnight, they have gone good season, slightly better season and on that upward path. So, I would love to win it this year, but, really, we are looking at this stage to be consistently in the play-offs and getting used to playing in and winning big matches.
“Like the Munster [Champions Cup quarter-final] game last year, we took so much learning from that as a group, and I would like to think that if we find ourselves in that same position again this year we would be able to go on and win the game.
“Boys are used to the non-negotiables [with Cockerill] in how we prepare and how we play. We know how hard we work and we know that pays dividends if we take it out on the pitch on a Friday night. There is a group of guys here who are more than happy to roll their sleeves up and I think that comes across in games.”