Eight changes for trip to Bordeaux
Edinburgh make eight changes for tomorrow afternoon’s European Challenge Cup round five clash against Bordeaux-Bègles at Stade Chaban-Delmas (Saturday 11 January, kick-off 12.45pm GMT/ 1.45pm local) – live on BBC Radio Scotland
Five of those alterations come in the pack as props Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan, lock Sam Thomson, and back-row duo Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata all get the nod for the top of the table contest in Bordeaux.
In the backline, Scotland star Darcy Graham returns to action on the wing, while scrum-half Nic Groom – who skippers the side – and centre Mark Bennett are both selected in the starting XV.
Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “Bordeaux are a very big physical team. I think we’ve got to be smart in how we play and clever around our tactics.
“Of course, there are parts of the game where you’ve got to front up and match them, but we can be a little bit smart in how we approach the game and make sure we don’t get into an arm wrestle that suits them more than it suits us.”
“I want us to be in the Quarter-Finals of the Challenge Cup but Bordeaux have been the form team in Top14 in France – it is a really hard competition to play in and they’ve been consistent. They’ve played 13, won ten, lost two and drawn one.
“It’s a pretty impressive record and they have some pretty good players. My job is to manage my team, go there and get as many points as we can, and give some guys an opportunity to play in a really big game. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
The inclusion of Graham on the wing is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three as fullback Blair Kinghorn – a try-scorer in November’s round two fixture against Bordeaux-Bégles at BT Murrayfield – and Duhan van der Merwe keep their place in the starting line-up.
Scotland internationalists Matt Scott and Mark Bennett – both try-scorers in last weekend’s 61-13 win over Southern Kings – link-up in midfield, as Groom partners stand-off Jaco van der Walt at half-back.
Hooker Mike Willemse packs down alongside props Sutherland and Berghan in the front row, as locks Thomson and Lewis Carmichael complete a reshuffled tight-five.
A new-look back-row sees Fijian international Mata return from injury at No. 8 as Scotland duo Magnus Bradbury and Watson form the remainder of the pack.
Edinburgh team to face Bordeux-Bègles at Stade Chaban-Delmas in the Challenge Cup
Saturday 11 January (kick-off 12.45pm GMT/ 1.45pm local) – live on BBC Radio Scotland
15. Blair Kinghorn (86)
14. Darcy Graham (28)
13. Mark Bennett (32)
12. Matt Scott (91)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (52)
10. Jaco van der Walt (50)
9. Nic Groom (8) CAPTAIN
1. Rory Sutherland (79)
2. Michael Willemse (13)
3. Simon Berghan (75)
4. Sam Thomson (6)
5. Lewis Carmichael (41)
6. Magnus Bradbury (74)
7. Hamish Watson (105)
8. Viliame Mata (67)
Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry (19) 17. Pierre Schoeman (35) 18. Pietro Ceccarelli (20) 19. John Barclay (9) 20. Luke Crosbie (34) 21. Charlie Shiel (13) 22. Simon Hickey (29) 23. James Johnstone (47)
Unavailable: Stuart McInally, Fraser McKenzie, Jamie Ritchie, Nick Haining, George Taylor, Chris Dean