EDINBURGH RUGBY head coach Richard Cockerill is under no illusions as to the challenge his side will face when they travel to Scotstoun to take on their great rivals Glasgow Warriors this evening.

And despite Warriors having been in poor form this season compared to previous years, and Edinburgh having had the upper hand in the 1872 Cup having won four of the last five editions, the Englishman believes the Glasgow side will be no less dangerous this year than they were in seasons where they were at the top of the league at the turn of the year.

“They’ve been very good the last two seasons and been pretty determined most of the year, it’s just we seemed to raise our game against them, and have done well against them the last couple of seasons,” said Cockerill.

“I don’t expect them to be any more or less motivated because of where they are, I think they’ll be pretty motivated most of the time. You don’t get to top of leagues and get to finals like they’ve done without being a good team.

“They’re in a different position that they’ve been used to, and it’s a bit like ourselves coming into the game last year. The league points are vital to stay in the hunt.”

Cockerill has made ten changes to his starting fifteen, with the most notable change being the inclusion of Duhan van der Merwe, who will make his 50th appearance for the club at Scotstoun.

The South African-born player will be eligible to play for the Scotland team from next summer and with Cockerill having seen his progress since joining Edinburgh two years ago, he believes he would be a real asset for the national team to have.

“I certainly think he has a point of difference with his speed and finishing ability to be very effective at (international) level,” he said.

“Until you get into a test match you don’t know how good he would be but he certainly has all the raw materials to play Test match rugby.

“He will be an important player for us this weekend. If we can get the ball to him in the right places and give him the right opportunities he will cause any team problems.”

Cockerill has also brought back Pierre Schoeman and Pietro Ceccarelli, hooker Stuart McInally and locks Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis while Magnus Bradbury starts at blindside flanker.

Blair Kinghorn, Mark Bennett and Henry Pyrgos are all also named in the starting line-up following Edinburgh’s narrow win at Wasps last weekend.

There will be a number of interesting match-ups on the field this evening, but Cockerill is confident that his men can more than match anything Warriors can throw at them.

“They’re a good side and are well coached, they’ve got some very good players. But it’s the same for us, I just think Edinburgh as a team have got better, and when you’re leading the charge against being in the pack it’s always easier to chase, and we’ve been chasing Glasgow this last few years to be as good as they are,” he said.

“Huw Jones at 13 will be a great contest against Mark Bennett, and we know what a quality finisher he is. Sam Johnson’s probably been the best back in Scotland for the last 12 months.

“There’s not a lot of weakness in that side but there’s not a lot of weakness in this Edinburgh side either.”