Five changes for Zebre trip
Head Coach Richard Cockerill has made five changes to the starting side to face Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma tomorrow (kick-off 1pm GMT) – live on Premier Sports.
The match is the club’s last opportunity for Guinness PRO14 points before a three week break – Edinburgh’s next fixture being the rescheduled match against Dragons on Friday 12 February.
Edinburgh co-captain and scrum-half Henry Pyrgos is promoted from the bench to start, while young wing Jack Blain – a late withdrawal from last weekend’s narrow loss to Glasgow Warriors – replaces try-scorer Jamie Farndale.
Props WP Nel (tighthead) and Pierre Schoeman (loosehead) are promoted from the bench in place of Simon Berghan - who rotates back to the bench - and the injured Rory Sutherland, with 21-year-old propping prospect, Sam Grahamslaw, targeting a fourth club appearance from the bench.
Back-row Luke Crosbie [pictured] completes the changes with his first start since November, in place of Magnus Bradbury, who joins the replacements.
Charlie Shiel takes the scrum-half replacement berth vacated by Pyrgos, while 24-year-old centre George Taylor has recovered from the facial injury sustained against Scarlets in November to join the bench.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: “This is obviously a very important match for us and our efforts to climb the table at the back-end of the season.
“We were disappointed to lose by the narrowest of margins away against Glasgow last time out and have once again picked a strong side that we believe can go out there and get the win we need.
“Like us, we’re anticipating Zebre will have their international players available to them before the Six Nations gets underway, so we’re expecting a tough match between two good sides.”
Centres Chris Dean and Mark Bennett start their fifth straight game together, while Scotland international backs Blair Kinghorn (full-back) and Jaco van der Walt (stand-off) – who both put pen to paper on contract extensions this week – return to the side once more.
Kinghorn and Blain are joined in the back-three by last week’s try-scoring Fijian cap, Eroni Sau.
In the forwards, hooker David Cherry packs down with Nel and Schoeman in the front-row, Gilchrist and Hodgson return to the middle-row, while Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata combine with Crosbie in the loose forwards.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Guinness PRO14, Saturday 23 January (kick-off 1pm GMT)
15. Blair Kinghorn (95)
14. Jack Blain (7)
13. Mark Bennett (47)
12. Chris Dean (102)
11. Eroni Sau (16)
10. Jaco van der Walt (66)
9. Henry Pyrgos CO-CAPTAIN (43)
1. Pierre Schoeman (55)
2. David Cherry (30)
3. WP Nel (150)
4. Jamie Hodgson (15)
5. Grant Gilchrist CO-CAPTAIN (154)
6. Luke Crosbie (47)
7. Hamish Watson (117)
8. Viliame Mata (80)
16. Mike Willemse (30)
17. Sam Grahamslaw (3)
18. Simon Berghan (88)
19. Nick Haining (17)
20. Magnus Bradbury (88)
21. Charlie Shiel (25)
22. Nathan Chamberlain (6)
23. George Taylor (27)