PREVIEW | Cockerill: "We have to be confident."

Head Coach Richard Cockerill has called on his side to show ambition with back-to-back home matches against Benetton and Cheetahs on the horizon.

With three away fixtures in the opening four rounds of the Guinness PRO14, Edinburgh have struggled to hit the ground running, however, the Head Coach believes his side have the ‘drive and confidence’ to secure positive results at BT Murrayfield in the coming weeks. 

“If you have any ambition to be competing, then you obviously want to win your home games. We’ve had three away matches and certainly could have gotten more points out of Ospreys and Ulster, but we didn’t, but they are clearly tough places to go,” explained Cockerill.

“Benetton were good last year and are much improved. They’ve clearly had a very good start this year, but we feel like we’re playing pretty well. We’ve got a lot of confidence in the team and we’re driven to win at the weekend.

“If we put together the performances from the last three weeks, we’ll certainly get points out of the next few games. I’ve got every confidence in this group of players.”

This weekend’s clash against Benetton comes off the back of a physical encounter in Dublin in which Edinburgh fell short against reigning league champions, Leinster.

However, despite the result, Cockerill insists his side will be better in the long run after testing themselves against a European powerhouse, such as the Irish province.

“It was tough. Leinster are European and Guinness PRO14 champions, so we always knew it was going to be tough. But we played some decent stuff and made them work extremely hard for their win.

“The score probably didn’t quite reflect the balance of the game, but I’ve got no issues with the result. However, we created some chances and should have scored a couple more.

“There were nine internationals in that squad at the weekend. We have a deep squad and we need to use it. And to be fair, you can take your best team and still not get a result. But, there’s a lot for the boys to build on.

Yes - the wins and losses columns isn’t looking too positive at this moment in time, but we’re actually playing some really decent rugby.

Despite Edinburgh’s current league position, Cockerill believes his side have shown growth in the early stages of the season.

“You have to recognise what you’re doing well, but you also have to go through an honest review. We’re getting better, but we’re only a year into a three to five-year project.

“We’ve improved measurably over the last 12 months. After speaking to Leinster following the match, they’ve chosen a really strong team because they knew the challenges we were going to bring.

“Although that doesn’t give us league points, it shows you how much we’ve really improved in a fairly short space of time. We’ve just got to keep preparing well, believing in what we’re doing – which we do. We’ve had some tough games, but I’m sure if we play anywhere near to our capability on Friday then we’ll get the result.”

Cockerill also shed some light on the current status of several injured players, including Bill Mata, who he expects to return against Benetton this Friday.

“Bill Mata should be fit, so that’s encouraging. Obviously, there’s a few guys who were rested against Leinster and they’ll come back into the squad. Pierre, you’d imagine will be unavailable following his disciplinary hearing.

“But we’ve got Allan Dell and Rory Sutherland, as well as Darryl Marfo, who are all international props – so there’s good strength there. Whoever we pick will go as hard as they can to win.”