EDINBURGH’S stand-in captain Chris Dean could have used the 10 changes that were made to the starting XV ahead of Friday night’s match against Glasgow Warriors as an excuse for his team’s poor performance but the centre decided just to call it straight, and challenge himself and his team-mates to use the experience as a timely reminder of what can happen if you are just slightly off your game at this level.
It was, after all, a game the capital side could afford to lose, so long as they bounce back with a much-improved performance in next Saturday’s PRO14 play-off semi-final against Ulster at Murrayfield.
“A lot of guys were trying to put their hands up for next week so there was a lot of intent to get out there and play well, and make sure that we collectively – as a team – put our best foot forward heading into next week,” said Dean.
“We certainly didn’t want to turn up and play like we did, we wanted to put in a strong performance moving into next week and gather that momentum, but we weren’t clinical enough getting out of our own half, and in fairness to Glasgow they put a lot of pressure on us.
“Now that game is out the way, we have to fully focus on next week. Cockers [head coach Richard Cockerill] has said we are not going to review the game, we’re going to move on, and get set to come back next Saturday and hopefully push on into the final.
“We’ll take the positive out of it and use it as a kick up the backside. We’ll come back in on Monday ready to train ahead of a massive game for the club, and for the club, next Saturday.”
Edinburgh’s last home league defeat prior to Friday happened to be against Ulster back in April 2019, so they are in no doubt as to the size of the challenge they face in six days’ time, but Dean is confident that his side have got what it takes to get a result and march on to a chance at glory in the PRO14 Grand Final at a venue still to be confirmed the following Saturday. That match would be against either Leinster or Munster, who are in the other side of the draw.
“They [Ulster] are a really physical outfit, a really direct team,” said Dean. “They have [former Edinburgh assistant coach] Roddy Grant there and we know what he is all about – collision-focussed and really aggressive – so that’s what we expect.
“But I think the work that we put in defensively, as shown in our stats across the whole season, shows that if we can get it right then we will be in a really good position. We just need to hold onto the ball and put them under pressure at the right times.
“We’ll see some guys come back in after being rested this week so we’ll be ready to go. It will be full guns blazing, I’m sure.”