Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said the club made a strong offer to the departing Duhan van der Merwe but would never have gone as high as the money Worcester offered the Scotland wing.
The 25-year-old, newly capped by Scotland last October having completed a three-year residency at the capital club, will move on the Gallagher Premiership next season.
The head coach said he hadn’t had to trade off budget to keep other players due to be out of contract – including Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie – but the offer from Worcester was at a level Edinburgh weren’t prepared to go.
“There comes a point where you just don’t want to compete,” he said. “We got to a level financially – and it’s a significant level – that we weren’t going to get into a Dutch auction.
‘Not good value to compete’
“There’s certain positions that have a natural order, and certain positions that should cost a little bit less. If Worcester want to prioritise their wing position, that’s up to them. There comes a point where it’s not good value to compete.
“Duhan has made his choice. It’s a short career. I’m disappointed because I want him to stay and we’ve done a lot for him and he recognises that.
“But in his heart of hearts he feels this is the right thing to for him to do. You have to accept that, be adult about it and move on.”
Davidson to move to Gloucester in the summer
Cockerill also revealed that lock Andrew Davidson – who moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh just last summer – was also moving on to the English league with Gloucester. But the head coach didn’t take that as a lack of ambition in Edinburgh – quite the opposite.
“We’ve been in European quarter-finals and just lost out,” he continued. “We’ve been in Pro 14 semis and just lost out. At Edinburgh we’ve improved this last four years and we’re doing good things.
“With respect to Worcester and Gloucester, I don’t think they are two teams you are going to go to win silverware with. They’ve got as much or as little chance as ourselves.
“I’m trying to think of the last time Gloucester or Worcester won a trophy or the Premiership. It’s a bit harsh to say that players are leaving Edinburgh to go to further their ambitions.”
‘No guarantees everyone will stay’
Cockerill couldn’t guarantee more top players won’t leave the club, but promised every effort would be made.
“We’ve done some deals and there are a few others still to do,” he said. “There are no guarantees in any sport that everyone is going to stay.
“It doesn’t take too much working out that we’ve got young players coming through who have come on to the scene and become internationals since they were last awarded contracts.
“They’re going to want more money. We are in COVID times so budgets are very tight. Wages go up and your budget goes down, so you have to manage that sensibly.”
No problem attracting players to Edinburgh
He strongly believes Edinburgh are an attractive proposition to any player who wants to come and develop, as shopwn by van der Merwe’s three years there.
“I’ve never had a problem trying to attract players to Edinburgh Rugby at all,” he added. “They are always positive conversations and I don’t see Edinburgh as a poor relation to other teams.
“We’ve had players coming in and improving out of sight. It shows we’ve got a pretty strong, robust environment that creates good rugby players.
“We’ve developed fully-fledged Test players for Scotland and starting every week. Guys like Duhan who have been called one of the world’s best wingers and is going for a big money move.”
Gilchrist set to return
Edinburgh may have pack mainstay Grant Gilchrist back from the injury that forced him out for two months for Friday’s visit to Scotstoun to take on Glasgow in the second 1872 Cup match.
“He was very close to playing last week but wasn’t quite right, not quite comfortable in himself to play,” added Cockerill. “But he has trained the last couple of days and is ready to go.”
“We clearly weren’t good enough in the lineout (on Saturday) and it’s going to be an important part of our game. We had key positions where we couldn’t win the ball and that hurt us so we need to get it right this weekend.”