RICHARD Cockerill has revealed that Edinburgh lock Andrew Davidson is to leave the club for Gloucester in the summer, joining a growing number of players to quit Scotland for English clubs.

However, Cockerill insisted that there was by no means one-way traffic between the two countries, and explained that Edinburgh would shortly be announcing signings and re-signings.

The head coach’s revelation that Davidson is on his way south comes just a day after it was confirmed that Duhan van der Merwe will leave Edinburgh in the summer for another English Premiership club, Worcester. The departure of the star winger comes only three weeks after Glasgow were forced to concede defeat in their bid to hang on to Adam Hastings - who, like Davidson, is heading for Gloucester.

But Cockerill insisted that, whatever the recent impressions may be to the contrary, he had always found it easy to persuade players that they should sign for Edinburgh, and said he was not worried that too much talent was leaving the country. “Not really,” he said. “In the next few days and weeks we’ll announce guys who are coming and others who are re-signing.

"We put forward a more than competitive offer to Duhan. He’s chosen not to accept that to go elsewhere. That’s the economics of it. 

“Duhan has left for his reasons and Andrew Davidson will go to Gloucester. But we’ve done some deals and there are a few others still to do.

“To be honest, I’ve never had a problem trying to attract players to Edinburgh Rugby at all. Since I’ve been here we’ve always been an attractive proposition to players to come. 

“With respect to Worcester and Gloucester, I don’t think they’re two teams you’re going to go to win silverware with. They’ve got as much or as little chance as ourselves. I’m trying to think of the last time Gloucester or Worcester won a trophy or the Premiership. So it’s a bit harsh to say that players are leaving Edinburgh to go to win trophies.”

Davidson, 24, only joined Edinburgh last summer, moving the Warriors after a season and a bit at Scotstoun. He had first joined Glasgow on loan from Newcastle Falcons in 2018, then the deal was made permanent for the start of the 2019-20 season.

“I think he’s played more regularly than any other lock in our team,” Cockerill added. “He came from Glasgow having not played much, but has played a lot this season and improved considerably. He’s played in the Premiership previously and he wanted to return to the Premiership and he had an opportunity at Gloucester.

“We wanted to keep him, and we offered him a robust deal. But it wasn’t a financial decision for Davidson - he thought the opportunity to go to Glouncester would be a good one.”

Davidson missed out on last week’s derby win against Glasgow, but he will be available for Friday’s rematch at Scotstoun. He will have tough competition to get into the squad, though, as Scotland regular Grant Gilchrist is back after two months out with a groin injury. 

Edinburgh eventually got the better of their rivals last weekend, winning 10-7 in a turgid match at BT Murrayfield. But they struggled in the lineout, where Richie Gray ruled the roost on his return from injury for Glasgow, and Cockerill must be tempted to reunite Gilchrist with Ben Toolis this week.

“He’s worked very hard, he’s recovered very well, he’s been with us training the last couple of weeks, doing most stuff,” the coach said of Gilchrist. “He was very close to playing last week but wasn’t quite right, not quite comfortable in himself to play. But he has trained the last couple of days and is ready to go.”

“Like Davidson, Gilchrist will come back into the reckoning. Toolis was very good at the weekend. Jamie Hodgson has done very well, [Andries] Ferreira too. So when we’ve got everyone fit we’ve got a decent stock, and there is also Lewis Carmichael due to come back.

“We clearly weren’t good enough in the lineout, and it’s going to be an important part of our game. We had key positions where we couldn’t win the ball and that hurt us, so we need to get it right this weekend.”