Edinburgh face “more than just a game of rugby” believes head coach Richard Cockerill as they seek to keep alive their hopes of retaining the 1872 Cup against Glasgow Warriors.
A record crowd for the fixture of well over 25,000 is expected at Murrayfield for the second of the three meetings of the rivals this season, with Glasgow having edged the first 20-16 at Scotstoun last week.
Now the ball’s in Edinburgh’s court as they face an uncommon situation for them in recent contests against the Warriors, with the pressure squarely on them, but that’s the way they want it, says Cockerill.
“We’ll have no problems with desire on Saturday. It’s important for us. We’ve got to understand that it’s not just a game of rugby, we’re representing our city. We’re representing the people we play for, our families, and all the supporters.
“We’re going to go full on and I’m sure Glasgow will come full on. These are no trials for the national team. We want the points, we want the bragging rights and we want to keep the 1872 Cup that we’ve won the last two years.”
Both of the next two games are at BT Murrayfield, where Dave Rennie has yet to win as Glasgow head coach, and he’s made four changes to the winning team from last week, restoring Oli Kebble, Ali Price, DTH van der Merwe and Ratu Tagive to the starting line-up.
“Hopefully half the crowd are in our colours tomorrow,” said the Kiwi. “It’s a special atmosphere – BT Murrayfield is a magnificent ground.
“We know what to expect from Edinburgh, they kick a lot and keep things pretty simple, and trust in their defence. We just need to do what we did last week, defuse their kicking game and be patient with ball in hand.”
Both coaches let their players off until Boxing Day to be with family and friends over Christmas, and there’s only one injury casualty from last week, Tommy Seymour of the Warriors missing out with a head knock. Tagive, who was enjoying his first strong run in the team under a hamstring injury slowed him up, is fit to return.
“The benefit of giving the boys a few days mentally is good, it’ll freshen them up,” said Rennie. “They’ve turned again and really put the work in.
“We’re happy to get the result last week and even if it wasn’t our best performance but attitude-wise it was excellent.”
Edinburgh, meanwhile, have made three changes, starting Jamie Ritchie in place of Magnus Bradbury, restoring WP Nel and in a surprise, preferring Nic Groom at scrum-half to Henry Pyrgos.
Matt Scott, absent for a few weeks with a rib injury, is one the bench, with George Taylor retained in the centre.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, George Taylor, Duhan van der Merwe; Simon Hickey, Nic Groom; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally (capt), WP Nel; Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Lewis Carmichael, Magnus Bradbury, Henry Pyrgos, Jaco van der Walt, Matt Scott.
Glasgow: Ruaridh Jackson; Ratu Tagive, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: George Turner, Aki Seuili, Adam Nicol, Adam Ashe, Tom Gordon, George Horne, Nick Grigg, Niko Matawalu.