Cockerill Not Putting Pressure on Players to Take Conference Top Spot

A gritty win in less than delightful weather conditions last weekend ensured Edinburgh Rugby remain top of the Pro14 Conference B table. However, Richard Cockerill has stated his opinion that he will not place any pressure on his players shoulders to remain in that top spot.

Cockerill assured his mindset is on each game as it comes, rather than worrying about league positions. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Edinburgh secured a 14-9 win over Scarlets in the wind and rain soaked Parc Y Scarlets last Saturday, with the win securing the capital club’s position at the top of the Pro14’s Conference B.

Cockerill’s men sit on the top spot with 38 points and 10 games still to play in the league’s regular season. The head coach has no plans to pressurise his players into clinging to that spot, however.

“I’m not worried about top spot,” Cockerill rebuffed. “And I don’t want the players to worry about, ‘We’re top and we’ve got to stay there’. We’ve just got to keep preparing and performing. There’ll be some bumps in the road.”

Bumps they have already overcome include three losses in the league, though only one – against Leinster – went by without a losing bonus point.

Things are rather simple, in terms of table outlook, for Cockerill as he explained, “I’m not going to put the heat on the players about finishing top. If we do, then great, but if we’re second or third, great.

“We want to be in Europe and we want to be in play-offs – to get to knockouts, we’re good enough to certainly compete.”

Cockerill’s team certainly had to compete against both their opposition and the weather last weekend as the rain and wind howled for the entirety of their encounter against Scarlets down in Wales.

“It was job done – four points and go home,” Cockerill simplified things. “Considering they’re in our conference, we’ve played them twice, nine points from two games, it’s a good result for us.”

Edinburgh will be hoping to generate much the same winning result this weekend as they are set to welcome Irish outfit Connacht to BT Murrayfield. The weather is predicted to be somewhat just as unforgiving.

Asked about the role the weather would play in the match, Cockerill said, “It’s going to be wet and windy. It will be a little bit more sheltered, hopefully, in this stadium, but same as last week – we prepare a game plan to deal with the weather.”

He later added, “I don’t care if it’s a 3-0 and it’s the rubbishest game we’ve ever seen – take the points and move on. The shinier days will be down the road in a play-off, hopefully.”

Cockerill will, obviously, be bereft of a large handful of international talent as nearly an entire forward pack is named to play for Scotland against Italy, as well as a couple of backs.

Connacht meanwhile, will only be without a couple of players. Cockerill has no doubt in the strength of his squad’s depth, however. And so, he is ensuring that his squad are well prepared and know the challenge that Connacht have the ability to bring.

“They’re a good team and if we don’t get it right, they are more than good enough to beat us. They know that and I know that for sure.”

Edinburgh kick off against Connacht at BT Murrayfield at 7:35pm this Friday, with the game being broadcast on Premier Sports 2.

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