Richard Cockerill: All pressure is on Vern Cotter & Montpellier, says Edinburgh boss
Richard Cockerill says all the pressure is on Vern Cotter and Montpellier in Edinburgh’s Champions Cup opener.
Edinburgh, in the competition for the first time in five years, are huge underdogs for Saturday’s game against the French side, one of the favourites.
Cockerill says the match is a “win-win” for his side with expectations low, as he faces former Scotland boss Cotter.
“We’re going to enjoy the battles we have against each other in the next few months,” Cockerill said.
“He’s a good coach who understands the game very well. He’s a hard taskmaster in terms of what he wants from his team. There’s a lot to like and a lot to respect.
“The pressure is all on him really. We’re probably not expected to go there and win, but we’ll see.”
‘No expectation on us, no pressure’
It is the second campaign running that Cotter’s side have been drawn against Scottish opposition, registering home and away wins over Glasgow Warriors last season.
After a difficult start to the Pro14 season, Cockerill believes his team are “starting to turn the corner a little bit” after back-to-back wins over Benetton and Cheetahs, but knows Edinburgh will need to raise their level to compete at the Altrad Stadium.
“The Champions Cup is a different level and different experience, but there’s no expectation on us, no pressure,” the Edinburgh head coach continued.
“We’ve got to go and put our best game out on the field against what, over the next two weeks [against Montpellier and Toulon], are massive European teams with big budgets and big-name players. We’ve got to go and front up and perform.”
Edinburgh conceded eight tries over the two matches against Benetton and Cheetahs and Cockerill warned such sloppiness will be exploited by Montpellier’s array of world-class stars.
“Our defence has been a little bit leaky, which is unlike us and if we make errors and don’t front up physically we’ll get punished,” said the former England international.
“Some of their players, certainly in their backline, we’re going to have to be very good to make sure we don’t concede. People like Nemani Nadolo are hard to defend on a normal day so if you’re a bit sloppy, give them opportunities and space, they’re going to exploit that.
“But we’re going there with a positive mindset, we’re going there to play and going to try and win the game. It’s not about keeping the score down or keeping it respectable, it’s about playing as well as we can and trying to go there and win.”