Capital side named for Saracens opener
Head Coach Mike Blair today named the Edinburgh Rugby squad for tomorrow’s EPCR Challenge Cup Round 1 clash with Saracens at StoneX Stadium (Saturday 11 December, kick-off 3.15pm) – streamed live at epcrugby.tv
The team selection includes several changes to the side that claimed a bonus-point win against Benetton last weekend as Scotland internationalists Mark Bennett, Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, WP Nel and Marshall Sykes all return to the starting XV for the European opener.
Back row duo Nick Haining and Luke Crosbie and wingers Ramiro Moyano and Jack Blain are all named starters with Viliame Mata, Jamie Ritchie, Damien Hoyland and Darcy Graham ruled out through injury, while 21-year-old stand-off Charlie Savala gets the nod at 10 having impressed from the bench in recent weeks.
Ahead of the European clash, Blair said: “This is a real challenge for the club. Saracens are one of the best teams in Europe and it will give us a really good measure of where we’re at.
“Saturday’s match gives us an opportunity to test ourselves against some world class individuals. We’ve been really pleased with some of things we’ve been able to achieve in the URC so far, but this week has a different feel to it and we’re just looking forward to the challenge.
“We talked at the start of the season about the history of the club in both European competitions. We reached the Final of the Challenge Cup in 2015 and our guys love the variety of facing different opposition.”
Emiliano Boffelli – who has two tries in two appearances for the capital side – continues at full-back with Blain and fellow Argentine international Moyano selected on opposite wings.
Bennett returns at outside-centre to partner James Lang in midfield, while the aforementioned Savala – making his first European start – and scrum-half Ben Vellacott combine at half-back.
An experienced front-row selection sees hooker McInally pack down alongside Nel and Schoeman, as lock Sykes is promoted from the bench to partner Grant Gilchrist in the second-row.
Luke Crosbie – named Player of the Match on his last two URC appearances - and Hamish Watson are named at blindside and openside flanker respectively, as Haining starts at number 8 to complete the pack.
Elsewhere, stand-off Jaco van der Walt returns from injury to be named among the replacements, while centre Cammy Hutchison makes the 23 after penning a contract extension earlier this week.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Saracens at StoneX Stadium in the EPCR Challenge Cup
Saturday 11 December (kick-off 3.15pm) - streamed live at epcrugby.tv
15. Emiliano Boffelli (2)
14. Jack Blain (18)
13. Mark Bennett (58)
12. James Lang (6) VICE-CAPTAIN
11. Ramiro Moyano (2)
10. Charlie Savala (5)
9. Ben Vellacott (7)
1. Pierre Schoeman (71)
2. Stuart McInally (158) VICE-CAPTAIN
3. WP Nel (161)
4. Marshall Sykes (13)
5. Grant Gilchrist (164) CAPTAIN
6. Luke Crosbie (64)
7. Hamish Watson (121)
8. Nick Haining (21)
16. Dave Cherry (43)
17. Boan Venter (14)
18. Lee-Roy Atalifo (14)
19. Jamie Hodgson (29)
20. Magnus Bradbury (100)
21. Henry Pyrgos (56)
22. Jaco van der Walt (74)
23. Cammy Hutchison (6)
Unavailable due to injury: Luan de Bruin, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Henry Immelman, Blair Kinghorn, Mesulame Kunavula, Viliame Mata, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Ritchie, George Taylor, Ben Toolis, Glen Young