Richard Cockerill excited by Toulon challenge

Date published: January 9 2019

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill is looking forward to the chance of seeing his side test their capabilities against three-time European champions Toulon.

The Scottish outfit have enjoyed an excellent season in Europe’s top-tier and currently reside at the top of Pool Five following back-to-back victories over Newcastle Falcons.

They next head to the Stade Mayol, a stadium which Cockerill describes as “one of the toughest places to go in world rugby,” but a victory will effectively secure their position in the quarter-finals.

It would also set them up for their final game against Montpellier where they could seal the group and make sure of a home quarter-final in the knockout stages.

“I’m not worried about going there, I am excited,” the former Leicester Tigers boss told the BBC. “These are the games you want to be involved in, when you are talking about competing against the very best. We are starting to get a team that can do that.

“We would like to make history on Saturday and be the first Scottish team to win at the Mayol, but we want to qualify out of the pool.”

Edinburgh were dominant in the reverse fixture, defeating Patrice Collazo’s men 40-14 at Murrayfield, but Cockerill is expecting a more obstinate Toulon team this time around.

“I think they will be a lot better than when they came here,” he said. “They were in a state of flux, had a lot of injuries and didn’t bring anywhere near their best team. But they have got some world-class players and will be much better.

“I know Toulon well enough to know they will never want to lose at home; that will be a big driver for them.”

On paper, the French club should not be struggling, but they have faltered both domestically and in Europe, and Cockerill believes that there is more unity in his squad.

He added: “The quality of their individuals is far beyond what we have got. But the quality of our team spirit and organisation and the sum of our parts, as ever, is going to have to be the key decider.

“We don’t rely on individuals, we rely on the team, whereas probably they rely on their individual brilliance much of the time.”