NEW Year, same old Richard Cockerill. It wouldn’t be an 1872 Cup match if the Edinburgh head coach didn’t indulge in a little bit of psychological warfare during the build-up – and he dropped a few of his favourite verbal grenades during yesterday’s team announcement when dismissing the notion that his team are entering the game from a better position than their opponents.

“It’s Edinburgh against Glasgow so we are definitely not favourites,” he said. “The reality is that they are a good squad. They still operate on a bigger budget than Edinburgh so they should have a good squad. I don’t think Glasgow are a poor team in any shape or form. They should pick from strength because they have a deep squad and some very good players.”

Warriors head coach Danny Wilson might not see things quite the same way. Indeed, he spoke at length earlier this week about the number of players he currently has missing through injury or due to Covid – but Cockerill was having none of it.

“It sounded during the week that Danny was getting his excuses in, didn’t it?” he retorted. “We as a group here – both players and coaches – have never thought this is an easy game or an easy win. We respect them. They are a good team with very good players.

“Like ourselves, they have the odd body missing but that is a very good forward pack. And that backline – Huw Jones, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Ratu Tagive, Brandon Thomson, Ali Price – it’s pretty sharp.”

“We both need points,” he added. “We are both in critical need of points to make sure we are in touch with the teams in second and third places. I think top spot will be beyond both teams but we want to be competitive and we want to win every time we play.”

For his part, Cockerill was able to name pretty close to a full-strength team with the obvious exceptions of the long-term injured such as Grant Gilchrist and Damien Hoyland. That means Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Henry Pyrgos all return after being rested for the last outing away to Sale Sharks a fortnight ago, while the props have been rotated so that Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel start at loose-head and tight-head respectively, while Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan move to the bench.

“We have pretty much got everybody available and we have had a full training week,” said the coach. “We just need to sort our own stuff out and make sure we perform as well as we can because we know we are good enough to compete and win any game.”

Edinburgh registered their best performance of the season against Sale to pick up an impressive away win over one of the top teams in England at the moment, but Cockerill said he had few qualms about dropping youngsters Jack Blain and Charlie Shiel after that to accommodate his returning internationalists.

“Giving guys opportunities and developing young players is important and they did well but, ultimately, you pick what you think is good enough to win the next game,” he said. “We need the league points, but I want to keep developing young guys at the same time.”

Edinburgh B Kinghorn; D Graham, M Bennett C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (co-captain); P Schoeman, S McInally (co-captain),W Nel, B Toolis, J Hodgson, J Ritchie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes M Willemse, R Sutherland, S Berghan, A Ferreira, M Bradbury, N Groom, N Chamberlain, J Johnstone.