EDINBURGH head coach Richard Cockerill admits he is pleased to have almost all of his internationalists back in his squad but while they are all keen to get back into playing regular club rugby, he insists he will not rush to put them into his starting fifteen before he believes they are ready.

With the capital club facing Dragons at Murrayfield in the Pro14 this evening, Cockerill has made several changes to the team which lost narrowly to Benetton last weekend, with John Barclay and Ben Toolis both named in the starting line-up, while Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie are all selected among the replacements.

In addition, winger Duhan van der Merwe, who grabbed a hat-trick on his last outing but was rested against Benetton, is recalled and stand-off Simon Hickey returns to the starting line-up.

Cockerill is certain that the reintroduction of the internationalists will have a positive effect on the team, who have performed admirably in the World Cup players’ absence, but he will not rush them all back at once.

“We all know the World Cup was disappointing but the boys just want to get back into the routine after being away from the club scene for so long,” said Cockerill.

“I’ve seen it before, on paper you have a very good side because they are all internationals but it is their first game back for a while. Those who played against Japan have not played for three or four weeks and others have not played for longer than that. It is just getting a good mixture. Barclay with Toolis, the rest of the lads have all played and we can introduce those guys when we see fit. It is just not putting everyone in together and using Ritchie, Gilchrist, Berghan for some real impact off the bench.”

Cockerill let off some steam earlier in the week regarding the standard of refereeing in the Pro14 and he does not regret expressing what he believes. But with Irishman George Clancy in charge this evening, Cockerill is confident he will have fewer frustrations than he has in recent weeks.

“George Clancy and Frank Murphy have refereed us already this year and they’ve been very good,” he said.

“I don’t see referees being a protected species, just like head coaches aren’t a protected species. If you don’t perform, you get criticised. It is what it is.”