REACTION | Cockerill: "We need to keep improving."

Head Coach Richard Cockerill says that his side ‘will keep working and battling away’ to come back a better team next season.

In a campaign of highs and lows, the capital side qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time since 2012, while retaining the 1872 Cup for the second consecutive season following back-to-back festive wins over Glasgow Warriors.

However, after falling short in Saturday’s 1872 Cup third leg at Scotstoun, Edinburgh ended the 2018/19 season in fifth place in Conference B – outside of the Final Series and Heineken Champions Cup places.

“We’ve got the basis of a very good team, but we need to keep adding depth to that and making sure that the players here are getting better all the time,” said Cockerill.

“The way the team has performed this year, parts of it have been fantastic. We’ve had some massive highs, but the lows have probably been a bit lower than last year.

“Last season’s European campaign, we were resting players because we were in a different competition; this year we were going full out.”

Although the capital side’s season ended in disappointment, there was plenty to look back on with pride, especially given squad’s performances on the European stage.

Edinburgh remained unbeaten at home while recording bonus-point wins over RC Toulon and Newcastle Falcons.

However, with a greater number of players involved in the Scottish national team, coupled with injuries in key positions, the capital side saw their domestic form affected for the worse.

“We’re a side that’s learning to play week in, week out and living with different expectations,” continued Cockerill.

“We’ve gone hard in Europe and we’ve gone hard every week when we’ve played in the league, and it’s not a conscious thing, it’s just the attrition of the season has probably taken its toll on the squad.

“It’s the nature of it. We’ve had a lot of guys in the Scotland team. We’ve had lots of injuries and guys have had to step up. We’re just not used to being at the sharp end of the season.

With the 2018/19 season in the books, Edinburgh now must regroup and refocus for the new campaign.

And Cockerill says it is up to he and his coaching staff to raise the standards for next year’s crop of players.

“As coaches, we need to keep improving the team and make sure the guys here are getting better every day. While we need to keep improving the depth of the squad – it’s a simple as that.

“We haven’t been good enough away from home, and that has been an issue. There are obviously circumstances around that, but no excuses, we’ve fallen short away from BT Murrayfield.

“This team has been around a long time and we’ve qualified for Europe by right once in that period, while we’ve qualified for Europe once in that time too. We’ve got to keep working and battling away to be a better team next year. We’re not a good enough side yet.

“But we’ll keep working and building this squad and we’ll become a better team.”