Sale v Edinburgh: Rory Sutherland looks on the bright side of life

Scotland prop says there is no reason why Edinburgh can't claim a surprise win at sale Sharks this weekend which would change trajectory of season

Rory Sutherland says morale in the Edinburgh camp remains high despite a disappointing start to the season. Image: © Craig Watson -
Rory Sutherland says morale in the Edinburgh camp remains high despite a disappointing start to the season. Image: © Craig Watson -

IT has not been an easy start to the 2020-21 season for Edinburgh. They are two from seven in the PRO14 and came up short in their European Champions Cup opener at home to La Rochelle last Saturday night.

The financial squeeze on Scottish rugby caused by Covid meant that Richard Cockerill was unable to recruit reinforcement in certain key areas during the summer, and with several of the team’s biggest names coming out of contract at the end of the season, the head coach does not have his troubles to seek when trying to build on the steady progress of the previous three years.

But loose-head prop Rory Sutherland insists that some perspective is required when assessing just how desperate the situation is, and has argued that the team is capable of achieving a positive result away to Sale Sharks this coming Saturday, which would not only keep their European campaign alive but alter the whole trajectory of the season.

Glasgow game v Lyon cancelled as 20 Warriors self-isolate

Richard Cockerill intent on keeping his out of contract stars at Edinburgh

The Offside Line recommends: 5 great rugby books for Christmas

“If we go down there and win at the weekend it’s a whole new ball game,” he stressed. “The season looks completely different.

“We’ve had a really good training week and we’re feeling good about the game. It’s nice to play different clubs and different styles of rugby, so we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

Sutherland was one of 11 internationalists who returned to the Edinburgh squad for last week’s meeting with La Rochelle and insists that he has found morale high despite the run of recent disappointments.

“I think the atmosphere is really good in the camp and you have to take positives from last week’s game,” he insisted. “They [La Rochelle] are the form team in France at the minute and we did a lot of good things in the game to run them really close.

“They were a big physical side and it’ll be the same this week. I think we’ve got to take confidence out of that game.

“It was just a little bit of ill-discipline that let us down. We’ve reviewed it and looked at the negatives, but now we’ve got to flush the result, and look towards this weekend, which is a massive game. We’re going down there to win and put our best game on the park.

Even if Edinburgh secure bonus-point wins in all three of their remaining Champions Cup pool matches, they will still be relying on results elsewhere going their way in order to qualify for the last eight.

A more realistic prospect is qualifying for the last 16 of the second-tier Challenge Cup by finishing between fifth and eighth in their pool.

Some might argue that dropping out of Europe altogether after January’s final two pool matches would be the best thing for the side because it would lead to a less congested fixture schedule during the remainder of the campaign and allow the team to focus on building some momentum in the PRO14.

Sutherland doesn’t see it that way, arguing that there is enough strength in depth in the squad to fight battles on two fronts.

“Every club goes through it when international games come around, every club loses players and sometimes the results don’t go your way – that’s just the sport,” he said. As players we’ve just got to deal with it.

“You’ve got to look at the year as a whole. It’s not been a normal season, at all. Every club has had to face that challenge, and I feel like we’ve handled it really well.

“We’ve got the strength in depth at Edinburgh now to be able to deal with the congested season. We’ve got guys that can step in if guys need a rest – if we feel that we do have too many games – but personally, no, I feel like the season’s going well.”

Glasgow game v Lyon cancelled as 20 Warriors self-isolate

About David Barnes 4004 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.