Nel returns as Edinburgh reshuffle pack for Wasps clash

Nel returns as Edinburgh reshuffle pack for Wasps clash

​Club centurion and Scotland international prop WP Nel returns from injury to make his first appearance of the season as Edinburgh Rugby make nine changes for tomorrow’s Challenge Cup round-four match against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena (Saturday 14 December, kick-off 3pm)

Six of those changes come in the pack as Head Coach Richard Cockerill names a revamped tight-five for the match-up with the English Premiership side.

Props Rory Sutherland and Nel, hooker Michael Willemse, and locks Sam Thomson and Lewis Carmichael all get the nod, while Fijian No. 8 Viliame Mata is reinstated into the starting line-up.

In the backline, scrum-half Nic Groom – named captain – makes his first start in over a month, as winger Jamie Farndale and fullback Damien Hoyland are both selected in a rotated back-three.

Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We’ve made a number of changes to the starting line-up, but we travel to Wasps with a really strong squad, with plenty of experience in key positions.

“WP comes back from injury to make his first appearance of the season, and his knowledge and understanding at tighthead will be vital. The same for Nic [Groom] at scrum-half who captains the side – his leadership is really important.

“We were obviously happy with large parts of our play in the win over Wasps last Friday night, but we know that they’ll be a different beast at home, and we’re ready for that.

“We’ve enjoyed a good week of training and we’re excited for the challenge of going on the road and facing an extremely talented Wasps outfit.”

A new-look back-three sees Scotland star Darcy Graham retain his place on the flank as Farndale and Hoyland are named at wing and fullback respectively.

Centres George Taylor – a try-scorer against Wasps last weekend – and James Johnstone both keep their place in the starting line-up, while stand-off Simon Hickey joins Groom at half-back after contributing 11 points with his boot last Friday night.

An all-new tight-five sees Willemse pack down alongside Sutherland and Nel in the front-row, with Carmichael and Thomson both named at lock.

The inclusion Mata at No.8 is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-row as Scotland stars Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie complete the pack.

Edinburgh Rugby team to face Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the Challenge Cup

Saturday 14 December (kick-off 3pm)

15. Damien Hoyland (69)

14. Darcy Graham (25)

13. James Johnstone (44)

12. George Taylor (13)

11. Jamie Farndale (6)

10. Simon Hickey (26)

9. Nic Groom (5) CAPTAIN

1. Rory Sutherland (78)

2. Michael Willemse (9)

3. WP Nel (134)

4. Sam Thomson (5)

5. Lewis Carmichael (38)

6. Jamie Ritchie (65)

7. Hamish Watson (102)

8. Viliame Mata (64)

Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally (139) 17. Jamie Bhatti (8) 18. Simon Berghan (71) 19. Ben Toolis (114) 20. Magnus Bradbury (70) 21. Charlie Shiel (12) 22. Jaco van der Walt (46) 23. Mark Bennett (28)

Unavailable: Eroni Sau, Cameron Fenton, John Barclay, Rory Darge, Luke Crosbie, Matt Scott, Chris Dean, Fraser McKenzie

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