Seven Scotland stars return for Toulon test
Head Coach Richard Cockerill has welcomed back seven Scotland internationalists into his starting line-up for tomorrow evening’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup match against RC Toulon at Stade Mayol (Saturday 12 January, kick-off 5.30pm GMT/ 6.30pm local time) – live on BT Sport.
Scotland stars Blair Kinghorn, Henry Pyrgos, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist and Hamish Watson all return to action after being rested in last weekend’s Guinness PRO14 win against Southern Kings.
As the capital side look to secure their sixth consecutive win in all competitions, the team selection includes 11 changes from the side that secured a 38-0 bonus-point victory at BT Murrayfield six days ago.
Ahead of the fixture, Cockerill, said: “We have to go and play our game. They are a far better team at home and have improved hugely from the last time that we played them.
“This is what you coach for and it’s what you live for as a player as well. I have told the players not to worry, but to travel there with excitement.
“Let’s go and enjoy it because one - we’re good enough to win if we get it right, and two - we’ll learn something about ourselves. We’ll know what it feels like and looks like to perform in those arenas and against those types of teams.
“We’d like to make a little bit of history on Saturday, but we’re well aware that it will take a lot of hard work and drive to achieve a positive result.”
Back-row duo Jamie Ritchie and Viliame Mata, along with wingers Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe are the only players to retain their positions in the starting XV.
Fullback Blair Kinghorn returns to action and partners wingers Van der Merwe and Graham in a back-three that has combined to cross the whitewash six times in the last five matches.
Centres Chris Dean – a try-scorer in October’s bonus-point win over RC Toulon at BT Murrayfield - and James Johnstone are once again named in midfield, whilst South African stand-off Jaco van der Walt and experienced scrum-half Pyrgos return at half-back.
A revamped front-row sees captain McInally pack down alongside Nel and Pierre Schoeman at the coal face, whilst club centurion lock duo Gilchrist and Toolis once again line-up in the second-row.
The inclusion of 23-times capped openside flanker, Watson, is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-row as Scotland teammate, Ritchie, and Fijian No. 8 Mata complete the forward pack.
Edinburgh team to face RC Toulon at Stade Felix-Mayol in the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday 12 January (kick-off 5.30pm GMT/ 6.30pm local time) – live on BT Sport
15. Blair Kinghorn (75)
14. Darcy Graham (16)
13. James Johnstone (32)
12. Chris Dean (78)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (32)
10. Jaco van der Walt (29)
9. Henry Pyrgos (14)
1. Pierre Schoeman (12)
2. Stuart McInally (131) CAPTAIN
3. WP Nel (126)
4. Ben Toolis (101)
5. Grant Gilchrist (131)
6. Jamie Ritchie (59)
7. Hamish Watson (92)
8. Viliame Mata (50)
Replacements: 16. David Cherry (10); 17. Allan Dell (55); 18. Simon Berghan (60); 19. Fraser McKenzie (106); 20. Luke Crosbie (20); 21. Nathan Fowles (67); 22. Simon Hickey (14); 23. Juan Pablo Socino (13)
Unavailable due to injury: Pietro Ceccarelli; Rory Sutherland; Lewis Carmichael; John Barclay; Magnus Bradbury; Senitiki Nayalo; Luke Hamilton; Matt Scott; Mark Bennett; Damien Hoyland