Edinburgh start the new year sitting pretty at the top of the Guinness Pro14’s Conference B but coach Richard Cockerill is taking nothing for granted and demands continued work and effort.
The capital pro-team thrashed Southern Kings 61-13 at BT Murrayfield on Saturday night in a bizarre match which saw the South Africans down to 12 men towards the end after an early red card, injury woes and then a sin-binning. Edinburgh showed no mercy and racked up nine tries to move three points clear at the top of their conference after Munster’s loss at Ulster the previous evening.
“I’m not interested in that at all,” said Cockerill. “We just want to keep collecting points.
“We’re top after ten games and where we sit after 21 games is what matters. There are no medals after ten rounds.
“We’ve just got to keep chipping away, making sure our environment is strong, keeping honest and working hard every week, so that we keep getting performances out of the team, which at this point we are doing okay with.”
The eccentricities of the rugby season mean that, with European games and Six Nations ahead, there are no more Pro14 fixtures for Edinburgh until their trip to Scarlets on 15
The attention now switches to their Challenge Cup showdown on Saturday at French form side Bordeaux-Begles, who lead the Top 14 and are a point ahead of Edinburgh in Pool 3 of that competition.
“We’ve got two big games in Europe [with Agen at home to
finish on 18 January]. We want to qualify and play in quarter-finals and now it is just down to me to
manage the squad over the next
couple of weeks.
“You can take your best team to Bordeaux and they’ve been on fire – they are on top of the French league which is a very tough place to play rugby. They look well coached, have a deep squad who look very powerful.
“So, I’ve just got to weigh up the next combinations to play next week and the week after against Agen. What do we need to qualify? And making sure that we are looking after our Test guys and giving other guys opportunities.”
Cockerill’s rebuilding of Edinburgh is evident. There was, inevitably, a big drop off in attendance from the record 27,437 crowd at the previous Saturday’s 29-19 victory over Glasgow as less than 5,000 attended this rout of Conference B’s bottom side. But with work starting on the national stadium’s back pitches for a new “Mini-Murrayfield” home and the team placed well in both their competitions it is an encouraging story heading into the new decade.
Cockerill remains realistic, though. “Our squad isn’t huge so we’ve got to make sure that we pick our fights sensibly, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“I want to get to the end part of the season with some gas left in the tank, and there has been a
World Cup, there is going to be a Six Nations when guys are going to be away, so I’ve got a bit of thinking to do around selection for next week.”