McFarland wary of ‘excellent’ Edinburgh ahead of PRO14 semi-final

Ulster Head Coach Dan McFarland knows his side face a tough test when they meet Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. 

McFarland worked as Gregor Townsend’s Scotland Forwards Coach from when he took over the national team in 2017 to the beginning of last year, leaving to take over at the Kinsgpan Stadium. 

And with Edinburgh able to call upon several Scotland internationalists in their pack, McFarland knows the challenge that awaits his side as they look to become only the second team to ever win a PRO14 semi-final away from home. 

“Richard [Cockerill] has built a club there built on some quality international players. 

“He’s made a lot of non-Scottish qualified signings who have had a major impact and you only have to look at the league table as it stands to see what a top quality outfit they are.

“The task in front of us is a difficult one – there’s only ever been two away semi-final wins in the history of the PRO14 and both of those were by Scarlets, so I know the difficulty of the task but we want to give it a better shot than we did last year.”

Inside information a factor?

McFarland also dismissed any notion of the Ulstermen having an advantage through the inside knowledge of former Edinburgh captain, Roddy Grant, who is on his coaching staff; as well as Managing Director Jonny Petrie. 

“Having Roddy and Petrie, we’ve got a little bit of inside information, but most of it is played out on the pitch. 

“As much as we coaches like to think we’re the geniuses behind the manufacturing of performances in semi-finals, it’s not the case. We know what Edinburgh are about and you’ve got to watch videos to do that.

“The inside information maybe helps a little bit, but not much.” 

Not just a forward battle

And McFarland knows that, while Cockerill has built a formidable pack in the Capital, they have plenty of ammunition behind the scrum too. 
“They’ve recruited and developed some fantastic back three players,” he said. 

“They’ve got some very skillful centres – Mark Bennett at 13 – they’re scoring a lot of tries and they can counter attack against you if you kick loosely. The development of their game has been really impressive.”

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13 comments on “McFarland wary of ‘excellent’ Edinburgh ahead of PRO14 semi-final

  1. john on

    Will be all set, morning at the beach with my daughters, then back & in position with a couple of Thai beers,
    I’d select
    Kinghorn, Graham, Bennett, Taylor, VDM, VDW, Groom, Mata, Watson, Crosbie, Gilchrist, Nel, McInally, Sutherland
    Reps – Dean, Chamberlin, Shiel,
    Haining, Hodgson, Berghan, Willesme, Schoeman

    Reply
      • sceptic 9 on

        think he’ll go with
        Kinghorn, Graham, Bennett, Dean, VDM, VDW, Groom
        Sutherland, McInally, Bergan, Gilchrist, Toolis, Bradbury, Watson, Mata,

        subs Willemse, Schoeman, Nel, Hogdson, Richie Pyrgos (if fit else Sheil), Chamberlain, Taylor

        Crosbie and Haining to miss out

        I’d not be surprised to see Chamberlain dropped out of the 23 though (not my pick, what I could see Cockerill doing)

      • septic 9 on

        so wasn’t far out with the team.

        Time to see if Cockerill has managed to change the Edinburgh mindset. Weight of expectation needs to be dealt with for a top team. No freezing, no brain farts Mr Schoeman

  2. FF on

    Edinburgh should be strong favourites for this and it is a golden opportunity to make a final. Hope they don’t choke but I’m fairly confident.

    Reply
    • septic 9 on

      edinburgh are strong favourites even if Cockerill is spouting his we are underdogs nonsense.

      edinburgh need to deal with expectation. They are bookies favourites by a wide margin

      Reply
  3. Eli Walker on

    I think if they VDV gets injured they will just start playing 10 man rugby anyway, so no point having chamberlain. Kinghorn would need to step up.

    Reply
  4. Dobbie on

    Why would they choke , whatever that means. They are the strong favorites , they are at home, bookies favorites and on form.

    Well are they ? Toolis and Gilchrist , first game out since the break and right into a semi final. He must have his reasons for selecting them, the benefit must outweigh the risk.

    Other than that, this side look in excellent form and can improve.

    Reply

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