Nine changes for Dragons clash
Head Coach Richard Cockerill today named nine personnel changes – six of which are injury enforced – to the starting Edinburgh Rugby side to face Dragons at the Principality Stadium this Sunday (kick-off 2pm) - live on Premier Sports.
A new centre and half-back pairing make up four of the five alterations to the back division, where Scotland international trio Jaco van der Walt (stand-off) - released from Scotland camp - Henry Pyrgos (scrum-half) and Mark Bennett (centre), plus club centurion Chris Dean all start.
The quartet replace the injured Charlie Savala, Charlie Shiel, George Taylor (who both move to the bench) and James Johnstone, who drops out of the 23.
Fijian internationalist Eroni Sau remains in post on the wing, while Blair Kinghorn moves from wing to full-back to take the place vacated by the injured Damien Hoyland, with Jack Blain joining the back-three in his absence.
The majority of the forward changes come in the tight-five, where prop Murray McCallum and hooker Sam Kitchen are promoted from the bench to start in place of injured duo Boan Venter and Mike Willemse, alongside the returning Lee-Roy Atalifo.
In the second-row, 21-year-old prospect Marshall Sykes partners Jamie Hodgson in a new-look pairing, with Andrew Davidson also ruled out through injury, allowing for Magnus Bradbury to return to his typical back-row berth to replace the injured Viliame Mata.
Luke Crosbie is reinstated on the open side of the back-row with Mesu Kunavula moving across to number 8 to accommodate Bradbury and complete the loose trio.
Edinburgh Rugby have handed opportunities on the bench to FOSROC Academy trio Patrick Harrison (18, hooker), Shaun Gunn (22, prop) and Matt Currie (20, centre), alongside former Scotland U20 captain and back-row Connor Boyle (21), who’s in line for a fourth appearance.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: “With the Heineken Champions Cup now out of our reach, we go into this game playing for pride – pride in ourselves and pride in the shirt we’ll pull on to represent the city, the supporters and the rugby communities that support us.
“We picked up some more injures in the Cardiff match, which have necessitated some changes, while others have earned a rest, having featured in all the games through the international window and prior to that.
“It makes for a good opportunity to give some of the younger guys a chance to play, put their hands up for selection and show they have the potential to fight their way into regular contention.
“It’s a highly motivated group and one we look forward to seeing them out there at the home of Welsh rugby this weekend.”
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Dragons at the Principality Stadium in the Guinness PRO14
Sunday 28 March (kick-off 2pm) – live on Premier Sports
14. Jack Blain (11)
12. Chris Dean (105)
11. Eroni Sau (21)
17. Shaun Gunn (0)
20. Connor Boyle (3)
22. Matt Currie (1)
Unavailable on Scotland duty (10): Simon Berghan, David Cherry, Grant Gilchrist, Darcy Graham, Nick Haining, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe, Hamish Watson.
Unavailable through injury (17): Lewis Carmichael, Nathan Chamberlain, Andrew Davidson, Dan Gamble, Sam Grahamslaw, Damien Hoyland, Charlie Jupp, Stuart McInally, Viliame Mata, Fraser McKenzie, Dan Nutton, Harry Paterson, Charlie Savala, Pierre Schoeman, Ben Toolis, Boan Venter, Mike Willemse.