Young Scottish players will play ahead of teenage South Africa recruit Jordan Venter if they’re better than he is, vowed Edinburgh head coach while revealing that one prominent Scottish prospect was in his sights.
Nathan Chamberlain, the Scotland U20 stand-off who scored a hat-trick against Wales U20s in the final representative match to be played before rugby was locked down by the coronavirus, is one player who is interesting Cockerill as a back-up 10 for next season, with Simon Hickey already returned to New Zealand.
Hickey left earlier than his completed contract in July for his homeland due his father’s illness with the blessing of the club, and hasn’t been retained for next year. With Jaco Van der Walt becoming Scottish qualified this autumn, Cockerill needs back up should the South African-born ten be required for international duties.
“We’re looking for goo quality guys who can help us now,” said Cockerill, naming Chamberlain, recently attached to Bristol Bears, as one possibility.
In the meantime 18-year-old Jordan Venter is to arrive with Edinburgh and Cockerill made no apology for the recruitment of the young South Africa Schools centre prospect.
“He’s physically well developed, he’s a young lad and he’s very well thought of in the South Africa Schools system. He wants to play pro rugby and he wants play for Edinburgh because we’ve given him the opportunity.
“Matt Cornwall, our head of rugby operations, puts together all the recruitment and he does a lot of research across all age groups throughout the world, and he was the lad play.
“Jordan has an English mother so he has a British passport. We watched his highlights playing at a schoolboy international age group, we touched base with him and brought him and his Dad over here for a week to have a look.”
The youngster would go through the same competition for places as any other player, added Cockerill.
“I don’t know where that’s going to end,” he said. “In 5 years’ time he could play for Scotland. In two years’ time if he really kills it here, he can maybe go and play for England or South Africa.
“At the moment he’s still a young man, he’s never played at this level, so we’ve no idea whether he’s going to be at the senior end of the game. But we’ve got to explore these avenues and players from all over the world because that’s the nature of the business we’re in.
“If he’s better than young Scottish players he’ll get the opportunity in front of them. If the Scottish lads are better, and we’ve got a number of very good ones coming through the system, they can play in front of him.
“It’s all about creating a decent squad with the budget we have and create as much competition as we can.”