Bennett back for Bulls clash
Scotland international centre Mark Bennett returns to Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV as one of five changes named by Head Coach Mike Blair for tomorrow's United Rugby Championship clash with Vodacom Bulls at DAM Health Stadium (Saturday 16 October, kick-off 5.15pm) - live on Premier Sports
Bennett’s inclusion in the starting line-up sees James Lang move to inside centre, as winger Damien Hoyland and scrum-half Charlie Shiel are both named starters, with Ramiro Moyano injured and Ben Vellacott rotated to the bench.
The remaining changes are made to the pack as club centurion and captain Stuart McInally returns at hooker, while Magnus Bradbury replaces the rested Jamie Ritchie at blindside flanker.
Head Coach Mike Blair, said: “We’ve talked this week about finding balance to our game after doing some really positive things in the draw with DHL Stomers.
“We were delighted to see that focus and energy in our fast start, but it’s about maintaining that throughout the full 80 minutes and ensuring we get our threatening strike runners on ball consistently, and executing our game plan from first whistle to last.
“The players have been buzzing to get back to DAM Health Stadium this weekend and the Vodacom Bulls present a unique challenge with their size and physicality."
The inclusion of Hoyland on the wing is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three as Darcy Graham – who scored his 20th Edinburgh Rugby try against DHL Stormers – and Henry Immelman continue at wing and full back respectively.
Bennett – who was this week selected in Gregor Townsend’s 36-man training squad for Autumn Nations Series – links-up with fellow Scotland international Lang in midfield, while Shiel and stand-off Jaco van der Walt – named Player of the Match in the draw with DHL Stormers – form a new-look half back combination.
McInally packs down alongside an unchanged prop pairing of Pierre Schoeman – who faces his former side for the first time in his career – and Luan de Bruin, as locks Grant Gilchrist and Marshall Sykes continue in the second row.
Fijian international number 8 Viliame Mata – who has so far amassed the most carries in the URC – anchors a back-row that sees Bradbury and Luke Crosbie named at blindside and openside flanker respectively.
Elsewhere, Fijian back-row Mesulame Kunavula returns to the bench and is in line to make his first appearance of the season.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Vodacom Bulls at DAM Health Stadium in the United Rugby Championship
Saturday 16 October, kick-off 5.15pm – live on Premier Sports
15. Henry Immelman (3)
14. Darcy Graham (42)
13. Mark Bennett (56)
12. James Lang (3)
11. Damien Hoyland (86)
10. Jaco van der Walt (74)
9. Charlie Shiel (37)
1. Pierre Schoeman (68)
2. Stuart McInally (155)
3. Luan de Bruin (1)
4. Marshall Sykes (10)
5. Grant Gilchrist (162) CAPTAIN
6. Magnus Bradbury (96)
7. Luke Crosbie (61)
8. Viliame Mata (92)
Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry (39) 17. Boan Venter (10) 18. WP Nel (159) 19. Pierce Phillips (1) 20. Mesu Kunavula (13) 21. Connor Boyle (9) 22. Ben Vellacott (3) 23. James Johnstone (67)
Unavailable due to injury: Nick Haining, Blair Kinghorn, Ramiro Moyano, George Taylor, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Glen Young