Internationalists return for 'must-win' Scarlets clash
Head Coach Richard Cockerill insisted destiny is still very much in the hands of his Edinburgh Rugby charges as he named the team to face Scarlets in tomorrow’s crucial Guinness PRO14 encounter at BT Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off 12 noon) – live on Premier Sports.
Edinburgh trail the visitors – who currently occupy Conference B’s third guaranteed European Champions Cup qualification spot – by 11 championship points with two games in hand, with tomorrow’s match offering the prospect of a win-loss ‘swing’ of points for the victor.
Edinburgh are boosted by the return of Scotland quartet David Cherry (hooker), Grant Gilchrist (second-row), Darcy Graham (wing) and Jaco van der Walt (stand-off), who have been released from Scotland duty following the postponement of this Sunday’s Six Nations Test against France.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: “It’s not overstating it to say this is a huge game for both sides in the context of the conference and the teams’ aims to qualify for next season’s European Champions Cup.
“Scarlets are in the driving seat in the qualification race however, mathematically speaking, our destiny is still very much in our own hands and we can keep it that way by winning tomorrow.
“It’s a must-win match for us and for them too. They’ll be coming here looking to get revenge for our win in Wales earlier in the season and cement their place in the race for Europe.
“It’s up to us to throw everything at this match and, with the postponement of the Scotland match, we’re able to bring four players back into the fold to help us plan and prepare to do exactly that.”
Gilchrist, Graham and van der Walt will all start as Head Coach Richard Cockerill names seven changes to his starting Edinburgh side.
Mike Willemse is promoted from the bench into the front-row alongside props Pierre Schoeman and Lee-Roy Atalifo, with the returning Cherry moving to the bench.
With five of the club’s senior second-rows unavailable (Lewis Carmichael, Andrew Davidson Jamie Hodgson, Fraser McKenzie and Ben Toolis), Magnus Bradbury is pressed into action in the boiler house alongside Gilchrist.
The final pack change sees Ally Miller join number 8 Viliame Mata and recently re-signed blindside flanker Nick Haining in the back-row. Miller takes the place of Luke Crosbie who moves to the bench, where he would mark his 50th club appearance for the club if called into action.
In the backs, a new midfield duo of James Johnstone and George Taylor starts in place of the injured Mark Bennett and Chris Dean – who moves to the bench – while scrum-half Nic Groom comes into the squad to start in place of Henry Pyrgos.
Returning Scotland wing Graham replaces Jack Blain and joins Damien Hoyland (full-back) and Eroni Sau (wing) to complete the back-three and the Edinburgh side.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Scarlets at BT Murrayfield Stadium in the Guinness PRO14
Saturday 27 February (kick-off 12 noon) – live on Premier Sports
15. Damien Hoyland (78)
14. Darcy Graham (37)
13. James Johnstone (58)
12. George Taylor (28)
11. Eroni Sau (18)
10. Jaco van der Walt (68)
9. Nic Groom CO-CAPTAIN (21)
1. Pierre Schoeman CO-CAPTAIN (57)
2. Mike Willemse (32)
3. Lee-Roy Atalifo (4)
4. Magnus Bradbury (90)
5. Grant Gilchrist (156)
6. Nick Haining (19)
7. Ally Miller (20)
8. Viliame Mata (82)
16. David Cherry (32)
17. Boan Venter (1)
18. Murray McCallum (59)
19. Andries Ferreira (7)
20. Luke Crosbie (49)
21. Charlie Shiel (27)
22. Nathan Chamberlain (6)
23. Chris Dean (104)
Unavailable through injury (10): Mark Bennett, Lewis Carmichael, Andrew Davidson, Dan Gamble, Jamie Hodgson, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Fraser McKenzie, Dan Nutton, Ben Toolis.
Unavailable on Scotland duty (6): Simon Berghan, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe, Hamish Watson.