Sale Sharks v Edinburgh: Rory Sutherland backs capital side to kick-start Champions Cup campaign

They may have begun their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a home defeat by La Rochelle but there is no sense of despondency in the Edinburgh camp.

Rory Sutherland has taken the positives from Edinburgh's narrow Heineken Champions Cup defeat by La Rochelle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Rory Sutherland has taken the positives from Edinburgh's narrow Heineken Champions Cup defeat by La Rochelle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Prop Rory Sutherland says the atmosphere remains upbeat as they prepare for the next test, against Sale Sharks away on Saturday.

Recent history suggests that Sutherland is right to be optimistic as Edinburgh have won their last three Champions Cup matches against Premiership opposition, as many as they’d won in their previous 11 such games.

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The victories, against Newcastle twice and Gloucester, may not mean much in the context of this weekend’s match but Sutherland admits there is always added edge when it’s Scotland v England

Rory Sutherland has recovered from the ankle injury sustained in Scotland's win over Italy in Florence. Picture: Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

“Of course, aye!” he laughed. “We always look forward to playing in England but like any game you’ve got to try to park the emotional side of it and focus on the game. The main thing for me and the team this week is to focus on Europe and try to get that back on track.

“It’s nice to play different clubs and different styles of rugby, so really looking forward to the challenge.”

The 13-8 loss to La Rochelle was a setback but no disgrace. The French side are leading the Top 14 and look capable of mounting a real challenge in Europe this season under Ronan O’Gara, a two-time Champions Cup winner.

“They’re the form team in France at the minute and we did a lot of good things in the game, running them really close,” said Sutherland. “It’s just a little bit of ill-discipline that let us down.

“They were a big physical side and it’ll be the same this week. I think we’ve got to take confidence out of that game. We’ve reviewed it and looked at the negatives but now it’s about looking at the positives and looking at the weekend, but the feeling in camp’s really good.”

The truncated format of this season's Champions Cup means clubs play just four pool matches before the knockout phase. It means there’s little margin for error but Sutherland is confident Edinburgh can kick-start their campaign in Salford on Saturday night.

“If we go down there and win at the weekend it’s a whole new ball game, it looks completely different,” he said. “The feeling’s good in camp and the boys are feeling confident, so we’re looking for that win.”

Sutherland’s buoyant mood is part explained by a speedy return form his latest injury setback. The big Hawick forward looked to be in a bad way when he hobbled off after only 15 minutes of Scotland’s win in Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup. He missed the game against France but made a sprightly return against Ireland earlier this month, confounding the doubters.

“I went over on my ankle in the scrum and I had it scanned on the Monday afterwards and it was the best possible outcome,” he explained. “I’ve got the guys at Scotland and the doctors to thank for that, they turned me round really quick and got me ready for the Ireland game.”

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