After confirming that four players, three of them Scottish internationals, will leave the club at the end of this season, Richard Cockerill said he has almost completed the overhaul of his Edinburgh squad that will allow them to be more competitive next season.
It had emerged over the weekend that Cornell du Preez, dropped from the Scotland squad for Sunday’s win over France and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne would be leaving the club and the head coach said that both Dunc Weir and his fellow stand-off, Welshman Jason Tovey, were also going.
Weir is set to join Worcester Warriors where former Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons is director of rugby, having recently been sent there on loan only to be recalled this week because injury problems mean Edinburgh need a play-maker for their vital trip to Ulster.
Cockerill explained that budgetary constraints had been a factor, but while he said he was unable to comment on suggestions that another cap, ex-Edinburgh centre Matt Scott, is set to re-join them, he had needed to re-align the balance in the squad and that a shake-up was required.
“When I arrived there were lots of forwards and not many backs and, with respect to the guys, there is probably less quality in the backline than in the forwards, so we’ve got to address that balance a little bit,” he said.
“It is not a short-term thing. We’ve got to remodel it a little bit at the end of this year, which we will, but we are looking to build the squad over the next three, four or five years to have some continuity and build some strength so we are able to compete.
“Hopefully there will be some positive news around quality players coming in. The squad will be smaller but I think it will be better quality. If we are actually going to push on and compete and get into the play-offs, that might be this year if we get the wind behind us and are a bit lucky, but realistically we might just fall short of that.
“If we do qualify for Europe, that ups the workload and the attrition enormously. With the budget we have we are not going to have a hugely deep squad but we are going to have 40 players probably of good quality.
“If nothing changes then nothing will change. When I arrived, this team had not done well in seven years so something had to change. Now we have changed things and I feel we are moving in the right direction.”