Bradbury Thinks Edinburgh Should Revel in Opportunity of Montpellier Clash

At just 23, Magnus Bradbury is a regular feature in Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh pack, and the young back-row spoke out about the frustrating game errors the team have made of late, the mammoth physical challenge of Montpellier and what facing the European giants means to Cockerill’s players.

Hamish Watson looks on as Magnus Bradbury makes a break against the Toyota Cheetahs at BT Murrayfield (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

The huge physical challenge Montpellier pose

Edinburgh’s game against Montpellier this Saturday, in the opener of their European campaign in the Champions Cup, will by no means be an easy feat for either side. The French side – who are led by former Scotland coach Vern Cotter – are known for their ferocious physicality.

Young pick Magnus Bradbury pressed that Edinburgh have not lost sight of this fact, saying: “The physical challenge they present is great. But we know ourselves, and we can be a physical team when we want to be.

“What it’s about for us is fronting up for that full 80 minutes, rather than having a 10-minute lack of concentration that lets other teams back in the game. So, we’ll front up and see where it takes us.”

If Edinburgh are to get anywhere when facing the French giants, they must not lose focus on their game plan, or underestimate any moves the French hosts make. Bradbury is well aware of what will happen if his team don’t heed this fact: “We know how they can punish us when we switch off.

“We haven’t looked at them too much yet – as a team – but we know, from the team they are, and how they’re held in Europe, how they are going to play.”

Montpellier’s play may have to be adapted due to the loss of some of their key playmakers. This includes former All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden, South African stand-off Johan Goosen and Frans Steyn, who all have suffered injuries to their calf, ankle and bicep respectfully.

Perhaps the most detrimental loss to the French side is that of Nemani Nadolo, as it was announced on Thursday afternoon that the back is to undergo surgery on a knee injury which could see him side-lined for months.

For back-rower Bradbury however, if picked, he could face the talents of the in-form Louis Picamoles – a player whose style of play is not that dissimilar to his own. On this, Bradbury hesistated: “Eh, I don’t know how similar.

“I’ve watched him play obviously, for France and for Montpellier, and he’s a good challenge. Hopefully Bill [Mata] will have more encounters with him than I will.”

Edinburgh need to display an 80-minute performance

In recent weeks, Cockerill’s side have somewhat struggled to remain in charge of their games for the full duration. Bradbury addressed how this fact affected the side in their game against the Toyota Cheetahs at BT Murrayfield last week.

He said: “Well you saw the previous game there, against Cheetahs, and we had that all over in the first half. I think we should have scored two or three more tries in the first half. But then we had that ten minutes post half time, when they scored two quick tries and were straight back in the game.

“That’s what I’m talking about basically – that ten minutes, where our physical side basically switches off and we let teams back in the game. Where, we should be looking to press them harder and score more points.”

Power ball-carriers like Bill Mata will be key in ensuring that Edinburgh remain focused on their opponents for the whole duration. Bradbury discussed the impact that Mata can have on a game: “He’s great. He’s good at getting the team to go forward. I think of every of his 20 odd carries in games, he’s always going forward.”

He added: “He’s still a good off-loader as well, which is a scary thing as for how big of a guy he is, how quickly he can move. He’s good to play with.”

Head Coach Richard Cockerill initiated the recent changes seen at the capital club (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Progression of the side under Cockerill

Edinburgh is still very much a side under regeneration, under the watchful eye of Cockerill. And so, coming up against the force that is Montpellier will be the ultimate test of their recent overhaul.

Of this, Bradbury said: “It’s a great chance for us to measure ourselves against them – to put our game out there and see where it takes us. But, like I said, with Champions Cup success it’s about – as a team, we’re strong but we’ve still got room to grow.

“So, we’re attacking it one game at a time, and individually taking the game – our game – to the field, and seeing where it takes us as a team.”

This will merely be the first test of many for this squad, but if they keep to their game plan, and continue to develop, it could possibly get to a stage where clashes like this become more frequent. Bradbury explained: “And Cockers brought in that vision as well. It’s just now a clearer image, you could say, of where we want to take this team.”

Playing down Edinburgh’s chances

Due to the standard of their opposition, and the weight which the challenge holds, some have been quick to diminish Edinburgh’s chances. Bradbury is not allowing himself to get caught up in such perceptions, however: “It’s all about what’s in the team, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what anyone else says – it’s about how we play and how we perform.”

He elaborated: “We’re a rugby team, and we’re a good rugby team. We know how good we can be, and we’ve shown that in the past. So, I believe if we get it right then we can beat them on Saturday.”

The importance of the clash

This clash, for a number of Cockerill’s players, is an opportunity for them to prove their worth at the elite level. The likes of Bradbury – along with Blair Kinghorn and Darcy Graham, to name but two – are not even 25, yet they are very much in the running for being picked to run out at the Altrad Stadium on Saturday.

Talking about what that could mean to some of the squad’s young players, Bradbury admitted: “It’s a big achievement. And it’s as big of a test as we’ll get outside of test rugby.

“So, for me, to hopefully be involved this weekend and play against Montpellier is going to be a big task – I won’t beat around the bush there. But it’s about me preparing as well as I can – same as every week – and playing as well as I can.”

Ultimately, Edinburgh are going to relish the challenge and put out their best game on Saturday, in the hopes of coming away with a positive experience under their belts – whether that may include a win or not is yet to be determined – as Bradbury confessed: “It will be a good occasion, as it’s a big team.

“I’m sure you’ve seen it’s going to be a difficult place to go – with the team they are, and the fans they have there. It’s an exciting time of the year to play against the top-flight rugby teams in Europe, so I’m looking forward to it.”

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