Edinburgh 'can't compete' at top of Pro14 during pandemic - Richard Cockerill

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill
Richard Cockerill thinks budget priorities might have to change

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill says it is not "realistic" to expect Scotland's two sides to compete at the top of the Pro14 during the pandemic.

Cockerill's side were thumped 50-10 by reigning champions Leinster on Monday.

But Cockerill points out that the Scotland squad is unable to send players back to Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors because of Covid restrictions.

"Covid has hit everybody hard and we as a Scottish nation don't have the depth in numbers," Cockerill said.

The national squad has been "ring-fenced" during the pandemic, meaning head coach Gregor Townsend has been unable to send players not involved in the Autumn Nations Cup back to their clubs.

Meanwhile, Cockerill pointed out that Edinburgh's budget for back-up players had also been cut because of the pandemic.

"Our squad depth has been tested and tested again and, when you come to Leinster who have the depth they have and quality they have, fair play to them, we're just not good enough to compete," he said.

"It's disappointing, you want to be more competitive, but the reality is that we just can't be with the players we have missing and the injuries we have and the budgets we have."

Cockerill expects his club, whose side sit second bottom of Conference B, and Glasgow to sit down for talks after the current international period is over.

He admits "it's a snapshot in time" but stressed: "If we all accept that, when there are test matches on, the possibility is your club teams are not going to be competitive, we have to accept that and everybody has to understand there will be less expectation, or you fund it differently and expect to be more competitive when guys are away."

Cockerill pointed out that he was having to play young players who would normally be gaining experience in Scotland's domestic top flight and he has urged them to "not be too down" after their defeat in Ireland.

He admitted that Leinster were also not at full strength either but thought Edinburgh were "victims of our own success" for having more players involved than previously with Scotland.

"It is unrealistic to think you're going to come here and roll this team over," he said. "If you look at the quality of their two locks, two of their three back rowers are pretty much world-class players."

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