Edinburgh reshuffle pack for Agen test
Edinburgh Rugby make nine changes – seven of those in the pack – for tomorrow afternoon’s crucial European Challenge Cup match against Agen at BT Murrayfield (Saturday 18 January, kick-off 3pm).
As the capital club look to advance to the knockout stages of the competition – which a win will guarantee - fullback Damien Hoyland and centre George Taylor both start in the only alterations to the backline.
A revamped forward pack sees Pierre Schoeman, David Cherry and WP Nel selected in the front-row, while Scotland locks Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist both return to action in the second-row.
Luke Crosbie and Nick Haining – both of whom were this week named in Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations squad – join Hamish Watson in the back-row.
Ahead of the match, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We’re starting to mature as a team now and I think we’re mature enough to say that this is a game we should win with four tries and five points.
“We’ve got to go out there, lay it on the field and just do it – rather than make it a struggle. That’s a different challenge for us and in some ways a harder challenge than being the underdog.
“We’re looking forward to the match. I expect us to put in a proper professional performance and get the job done.”
The inclusion of Hoyland at fullback is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three as Duhan van der Merwe – who this week penned a new deal with the club – and Darcy Graham keep their place in the starting XV.
Centre Mark Bennett – who grabbed his seventh try of the season in last weekend’s round-five match against Bordeaux-Bègles – is paired with Taylor in midfield. Scrum-half Nic Groom – who skippers the side – once again links-up with Jaco van der Walt at half-back.
Props Schoeman and Nel pack down alongside hooker Cherry up front, with Gilchrist and Toolis – both of whom were rested for last week’s defeat in Bordeaux – named at locks.
An all Scotland squad back-row sees openside-flanker Watson retain his place in the starting line-up as Crosbie and Haining complete the pack.
Elsewhere, lock Fraser McKenzie and centre Chris Dean both return from long-term injury and are named among the replacements for the capital side’s final pool stage fixture.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Agen at BT Murrayfield in the European Challenge Cup
Saturday 18 January, kick-off 3pm
15. Damien Hoyland (70)
14. Darcy Graham (29)
13. Mark Bennett (33)
12. George Taylor (16)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (53)
10. Jaco van der Walt (51)
9. Nic Groom (9) CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (36)
2. David Cherry (20)
3. WP Nel (137)
4. Ben Toolis (118)
5. Grant Gilchrist (145)
6. Luke Crosbie (35)
7. Hamish Watson (106)
8. Nick Haining (7)
Replacements: 16. Mike WIllemse (14) 17. Rory Sutherland (80) 18. Pietro Ceccarelli (21) 19. Fraser McKenzie (117) 20. John Barclay (10) 21. Henry Pygros (33) 22. Simon Hickey (30) 23. Chris Dean (86)
Unavailable: Stuart McInally, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie