Ulster's Charles Piutau 'cost as much as whole Edinburgh backline', says Richard Cockerill

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill oversees training
Richard Cockerill is close to taking Edinburgh to their maiden Pro14 play-off
Pro14: Edinburgh v Ulster
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium Date: Friday, 6 April Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Alba, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport Scotland website

Richard Cockerill says his Edinburgh players will benefit psychologically from the "huge" Pro14 fixtures at the season climax.

Victory over Ulster on Friday would earn the Scots a first-ever league play-off, and European Champions Cup rugby next term.

But the visiting province boast several members of Ireland's Grand Slam-winning squad, and All Black Charles Piutau.

"I'm sure Piutau probably cost as much as our whole backline," Cockerill said.

Charles Piutau scores a try for Ulster
Charles Piutau has beaten 51 defenders on Pro14 duty this season

"They're going to bring guys like [Ireland captain] Rory Best, Piutau, [Six Nations player of the tournament] Jacob Stockdale, [British and Irish Lion] Iain Henderson - world-class players.

"But I've no doubt we can compete with and beat this side and that's a great experience for our team."

Edinburgh are 13 points clear of Ulster in third place in Conference B, having played a game more than Friday's opponents.

They stunned the Northern Irish side in Belfast during February with Duncan Weir's late drop-goal snatching a 17-16 win, and have beaten all four Irish provinces this season for the first time in over a decade.

"If we can get to a play-off and go wherever in a play-off quarter-final, if that's Thomond Park, what a great experience," head coach Cockerill added.

Edinburgh players celebrate Duncan Weir's match-winning drop-goal against Ulster
Duncan Weir's drop-goal earned Edinburgh a last-gasp victory over Ulster in Belfast

"The likelihood is we're probably not going to go and win but who knows, we might be good enough to make some sides sweat.

"You've got to experience that to then grow your game and have that under your belt for the next time that may come around.

"You don't just turn that around in a year, and suddenly you're wining quarters and semis and finals. That didn't happen at Glasgow or Exeter or Scarlets, it takes time."

Cockerill had guided Edinburgh to five successive victories, before their momentum was stalled by a 20-6 defeat by Cardiff Blues in Saturday's European Challenge Cup quarter-final.

"The focus for this group, which I'm learning, is that we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," the former Leicester Tigers boss said.

Duhan van der Merwe carries ball into contact for Edinburgh against Cardiff Blues
A lacklustre defeat by Cardiff Blues on Saturday ended Edinburgh's five-match winning run

"Maybe on Saturday we started to think about what happens if we get to semi and getting ahead of ourselves and I don't think we're quite good enough as a group to be doing that yet.

"What I'm learning in this city is that expectation grows very quickly and I'm not sure it's particularly well-founded.

"If you're Glasgow, and a Glasgow supporter, you might expect to win because they have actually won something. Edinburgh have never won anything. They've never won a trophy. We've been a bottom-four team for seven years. What are we basing expecting to win on?

"We've shown we're capable of winning these games but we need to go back to our basics around physicality and mentality and how we want to play the game. We didn't play enough rugby on Saturday.

"The feedback from Cardiff was that was their biggest result of the season. If sides are talking like that it shows we're gaining respect within the competition, we're a hard team to beat and people are actually taking notice of us. The better we play, the more teams we beat, teams start to take us seriously."

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