Edinburgh rotate squad for European opener
Edinburgh make 12 changes to their starting line-up for tomorrow night’s Challenge Cup Pool 3 opener against Agen at Stade Armandie (Friday 15 November, kick-off 7pm GMT/8pm local).
Scotland internationalists Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie are all named in the capital side’s starting XV for the first time this season, while both scrum-half Charlie Shiel and lock Sam Thomson make their first start for the club
Elsewhere, summer signing Nick Haining returns from injury at No.8, with fullback Damien Hoyland and centres James Johnstone and George Taylor all selected in the back division.
Ahead of the fixture – which sees Edinburgh face Agen for the first time since 2016 - Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We’ve got a strong squad and that is reflected in our team selection.
“We have been able to rotate back in a number of our Scotland internationalists to the forward pack. They bring quality and that added experience, which is always needed when travelling away in Europe.
“A number of guys get their opportunity in the backline, and we’re excited to see how they perform against a quality opposition in Agen.
“We know we’ll be up against a really tough and physically dominant side, who will be keen to get their European campaign off to the best possible start, but we’ve prepared well and come into Friday’s match with plenty of confidence across the board.”
Scotland international Hoyland returns at fullback as wingers Jamie Farndale and Fijian international Eroni Sau combine on the flanks.
Outside centre Johnstone – who makes just his second appearance of the season – is paired with Taylor in midfield, while Shiel and stand-off Simon Hickey form a new-look half-back pairing.
Hooker Cameron Fenton packs down alongside Scotland prop duo Jamie Bhatti and Berghan in the front-row, with club centurion Gilchrist – who skippers the side – and Thomson named at locks.
No.8 Haining anchors a back-row that see John Barclay and Scotland teammate Ritchie named at blindside and openside flanker respectively.
Heriot’s Scrum-half Dan Nutton is selected among the replacements and if involved will make his competitive debut for the club.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Agen at Stade Armandie in the Challenge Cup
Friday 15 November (kick-off 7pm GMT/ 8pm local)
15. Damien Hoyland (67)
14. Eroni Sau (3)
13. James Johnstone (42)
12. George Taylor (10)
11. Jamie Farndale (5)
10. Simon Hickey (23)
9. Charlie Shiel (11)
1. Jamie Bhatti (5)
2. Cameron Fenton (16)
3. Simon Berghan (68)
4. Sam Thomson (3)
5. Grant Gilchrist (138) CAPTAIN
6. John Barclay (6)
7. Jamie Ritchie (63)
8. Nick Haining (4)
Replacements: 16. Michael Willemse (6) 17. Rory Sutherland (76) 18. Murray McCallum (53) 19. Lewis Carmichael (37) 20. Ally Miller (13) 21. Dan Nutton* 22. Jason Baggott (1) 23. Dougie Fife (124)
Players unavailable: Murray Douglas, Ben Toolis, Jack Stanley, Nic Groom, David Cherry, Darcy Graham, Darryl Marfo, Hamish Watson, WP Nel, Chris Dean, Ruan Steenkamp, Fraser McKenzie
*Edinburgh Rugby competitive debut