EDINBURGH head coach Richard Cockerill says that discussions have taken place about the possibility of one of the three scrum-halves currently on Glasgow Warriors’ books switching to the capital outfit next season.
As revealed by The Offside Line on Monday, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has rejected a contract extension offer from Edinburgh – which was on a reduced basis to the original deal tabled earlier in the season – in favour of a move to Scarlets in Wales, and that has focussed minds on the lack of depth as it stands at the club in that key position for next year.
“It’s professional sport, people come and go. He’s played well, but we’ve got other guys that’ll play well and if we find the right person we’ll bring someone else in to help that position as well,” said Cockerill.
“Sam is going to a good side, he’s going to have tough competition for his spot and we wish him all the best. In many ways it’ll be good for him to go and mature and grow up a little bit outside of this environment. He’s been here his whole life. I think it’ll be good for his game and who knows what the future holds. He goes with nothing but best wishes.”
Asked if he had thought about the possibility of Henry Pyrgos, George Horne or Ali Price joining his club to fill the gap left by Hidalgo-Clyne’s departure, Cockerill replied: “Yeah – it is sensible, too. Only two are going to play each week [at Glasgow] and one won’t be getting any game time. With Horne and Price, they are still very young, Pyrgos is turning 29 and there is a World Cup coming up.
“Purely from a national point of view, it would make sense. There is no point having three national nines in one team. However, those are discussions that are in process. Whether anything comes of that: we will see.”
Three scrum-halves are currently on Edinburgh’s books for next season in Nathan Fowles, Sean Kennedy and academy graduate Charlie Shiel, and Cockerill challenged each member of that triumvirate to step up to the plate.
“Somebody has to take the bull by the horns and be our first choice nine. We need quality in that position if we are going to compete in the PRO14 and in Europe. We need quality in key positions,” he said.
“Charlie is a good player, Sean Kennedy and Fowles are of a quality, but the reality is we probably need more quality at nine. Regardless of whether Sam had stayed or not. We can all see we need that. It is no secret.
“If there is a Scotsman that can take that role then fine. If not, we will go and find a nine, that can improve us. Simple as that.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 3)
In the meantime, Cockerill’s focus is purely on preparing his team for this weekend’s trip to Limerick for their PRO14 play-off quarter-final clash against Munster on Saturday.
“They’re a big team, a big European side used to these occasions. We’re not, but if we’re good enough to beat Glasgow, we’re good enough to beat Munster. It’ll be a tough order to do that, but why not?
This is, of course, unchartered territory for Edinburgh, but their head coach has plenty of experience of the highs and lows of knock-out rugby, and he has tasted both success and defeat in those sorts of games in Munster as a player and a coach at Leicester Tigers.
“It is a fantastic place, a great rugby city, isn’t it? If you are looking at heavyweights in European rugby, Munster would certainly be up there with what they have done. They will be sold out and we are the lambs to the slaughter,” he mischievously quipped. “We’ve got to go with the mindset that we’re going to win. I’m sure they feel exactly the same, but they’re at home, they’re expected to win, so the pressure is on them – we can go and enjoy ourselves and get amongst it.”
“Look, we are going to go there and enjoy the occasion,” he added. “It is a big game and we have not been in these big games before so we have to learn what that feels like, what that looks like and tastes like, with the pressure and the noise. The physicality that will come our way on Saturday will be something that some of our players have never experienced before.”
“It is different from the 1872 Cup when you beat Glasgow – that is great, but this is different. We are going to a place steeped in history where they are mad for their rugby and rightly so. Why would you not want to be there and playing? What a great occasion!
“There is no reason we cannot go there and win because we are a good side, too. We have proved that. We have beaten Munster and Leinster this season – but not their proper teams in a game that really matters. There are going to be no excuses from them and no excuses from us. On the day the best team will come through.
“We have nothing to lose but have worked bloody hard to get to this point so I don’t want to give it away either. If Munster are going to beat us, I want them to have to play at their best to do that.”
Cockerill confirmed that full-back Blair Kinghorn and Chris Dean, who missed Edinburgh’s victory over Glasgow Warriors with food poisoning and an ankle injury respectively, are both back fit and raring to go against Munster. “They both trained today,” he said.