NEWS | McKenzie returns to captain Edinburgh after signing new deal

Club centurion, Fraser McKenzie, will captain Edinburgh on his return from injury in tomorrow evening’s Guinness PRO14 match against Isuzu Southern Kings at BT Murrayfield (Saturday 5 January, kick-off 7.35pm).

The second-row is named in the starting line-up on the same day he signed a new two-year contract extension which will see him remain in the capital until at least 2021.

McKenzie – who last season became Edinburgh’s 31st centurion – was named as club captain during the 2017/18 campaign and led the capital side to their first ever Guinness PRO14 Final Series berth as well as a return to the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time in five years.

Ahead of his return to action against Southern Kings tomorrow night, McKenzie, said: “I’m delighted to be staying in Edinburgh for another two years and I can’t wait to get back on the field with my team-mates tomorrow evening.

“It’s an exciting period for this team and I'm looking forward to playing my part in bringing success to this club and to this city.”

With several internationalists rested following an intense run of fixtures in both the Heineken Champions Cup and Guinness PRO14, Head Coach Richard Cockerill has made 11 changes to the side that recorded a hard-earned victory over Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun last weekend to retain the 1872 Cup.

Ahead of the fixture, Cockerill, said: “We have to keep battling away. Players have to front up, it's simple as that. The settled part of our squad has been really good for us, especially on short turnarounds.

“There's a long way to go. I want to be in Europe next year and we have to qualify for that. We have a lot to do. We want to be in the playoffs again.

“We have a lot to prove. We just have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to work hard.”

In the back three, Dougie Fife returns to action at fullback and is partnered on the wings by Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe - the latter looking to continue the rich vein of form that has seen the South African score three tries in his last four appearances.

Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy graduate George Taylor is named in the centre alongside Argentine international Juan Pablo Socino, whilst Simon Hickey is partnered at half-back by scrum-half Nathan Fowles.

A revamped tight-five sees hooker David Cherry named in the front-row alongside capped duo Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan. Callum Hunter-Hill is promoted from the bench to partner captain McKenzie in the second-row.

The inclusion of Luke Crosbie at openside flanker is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-row as Jamie Ritchie and Fijian No. 8 Viliame Mata complete the pack.

Elsewhere, Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy graduate and scrum-half Charlie Shiel is named amongst the replacements and, if involved, will make his first appearance for the club, becoming the third generation of his family to represent Edinburgh.

 

Edinburgh team to face Isuzu Southern Kings at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness PRO14 on Saturday 5 January (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Premier Sports

 

15. Dougie Fife (118)

 

14. Darcy Graham (15)

13. George Taylor (1)

12. Juan Pablo Socino (12)

11. Duhan van der Merwe (31)

 

10. Simon Hickey (13)

9. Nathan Fowles (66)

 

1. Rory Sutherland (70)

2. David Cherry (10)

3. Simon Berghan (59)

4. Fraser McKenzie (105) CAPTAIN

5. Callum Hunter-Hill (10)

6. Jamie Ritchie (58)

7. Luke Crosbie (19)

8. Viliame Mata (49)

 

Replacements: 16. Ross Ford (189); 17. Pierre Schoeman (11); 18. Pietro Ceccarelli (5); 19. Ben Toolis (101); 20. Ally Miller (3); 21. Charlie Shiel*; 22. Jaco van der Walt (28); 23. James Johnstone (32)

 

Unavailable due to injury: Lewis Carmichael; John Barclay; Magnus Bradbury; Senitiki Nayalo; Luke Hamilton; Matt Scott; Mark Bennett; Chris Dean; Damien Hoyland

 

*Edinburgh competitive debut