Cockerill Positive as Bennett Adds to Injury List
Despite it being confirmed this week that centre Mark Bennett will be out of action for five to six months, Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill is remaining positive that the depth of his squad will ensure that he is able to continue remodelling this Edinburgh side.
Cockerill in training with the squad ahead of their clash with Leinster this week (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Richard Cockerill confirmed that Mark Bennett looks set to miss this year’s Six Nations Championship. After rupturing his hamstring in their away fixture against Ulster in game two, it was clear that Bennett was set for a long stint off the field. Speaking to the press on Monday Cockerill said,
“Mark Bennett had surgery on Saturday on his hamstring and the upshot of that is he will be out for five to six months. What are we, January, February, March? Yeah. He will miss the Six Nations as it stands today.”
It is another addition to the centre’s injury woes, as he spent almost half a year on the side-line last season after picking up a serious knee ligament injury in March 2017.
Bennett’s injury adds to a long list of players unable for selection, with the coach revealing Cameron Fenton has just undergone hip surgery and Lewis Carmichael is still not match fit after his head knock in the pre-season. Daryl Marfo is having to step up and gain a place from new addition Pierre Schoeman, and Fijian summer signing Senitiki Nayalo is still working his way up to squad level.
Cockerill still has his ever constant optimism. Their showing at scrum time and the break down was one of the sides best’s exploits against Connacht on Friday evening, but he ensures it’s only going to get stronger.
“We’re slowly getting there. There’s guys like Simon Berghan to start and Ross Ford and Allan Dell, along with Darryl Marfo, who hasn’t featured this year so far. There’s obviously Mata who didn’t play at the weekend. Obviously, John Barclay to come back in and Magnus Bradbury who has just come back to fitness. So there’s some bodies to come back in. Lewis Carmichael as well, there’s some really good young fellas there as well.”
“This squad is not as remodelled as I would like it to be moving forward, but we are 14-15 months into a project that is 4-5 years old. We need to keep evolving that over the 12-24 months and this squad will get better.”
The head coach’s decision to keep adding players to the squad is obviously paying off. Competition for places, especially in the forward pack, is going to be ruthless when players reach match fitness.
The injury of Mark Bennett has paved the way for former sevens star James Johnstone to have a more permanent position in the starting line-up, and Cockerill confirmed that centre Chris Dean looks set to get a start against Leinster.