Scotland stars return for final pre-season clash
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Mike Blair welcomes the return of five Scotland stars to a strong and experienced side to face Benetton in Saturday’s Scottish Building Society Pre-Season Series clash at Edinburgh Rugby Stadium (18 September, kick-off 3pm).
Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie all return to the starting XV after missing out on last weekend’s Newcastle Falcons match, while summer recruits James Lang and Freddie Owsley are both selected among the replacements and are in line to make their first appearances for the capital club.
The starting line-up features nine Scotland internationalists and includes six changes to last weekend’s side, as Edinburgh Rugby bring their pre-season preparations to a close against the Italian outfit.
Graham returns to the wing to make his first Edinburgh appearance since April, while a new half-back pairing sees Kinghorn named at stand-off alongside scrum-half Ben Vellacott.
Blair makes three changes to the tight-five as hooker McInally, loosehead Pierre Schoeman and lock Gilchrist are all named starters, while Ritchie gets the nod at blindside flanker in the only alteration to the back-row.
Ahead of the pre-season clash, Blair said: “We’re delighted to welcome back a number of the club’s experienced internationalists for this game. They’ll all have significant roles to play as the United Rugby Championship gets started in just over a week’s time, and it’s important that they get this game time under their belts as we approach the season kick-off.
“While we were clearly disappointed with the result against Falcons, that match wasn't about the full-time score, but the overall performance - and there were plenty of positives to take out of that game across the board. I’m keen that we continue to build on those positives this weekend and it will be great to see a number of players tested in different positions.
“Benetton are a quality side that were worthy and deserved winners of the Rainbow Cup, while they’re a team that we’ll face twice in our URC Conference. We look forward to the challenge that Saturday’s match-up presents and the squad are excited to once again play in front of our home support in our brand-new stadium.”
Summer signing Henry Immelman continues at full-back after an impressive first outing for the capital side last weekend, with Graham and Damien Hoyland named on opposite wings.
Outside centre Mark Bennett – named Player of the Match against Falcons – once again links up with Cammy Hutchison in midfield, while Vellacott and Kinghorn form an exciting half-back pairing.
Hooker McInally packs down alongside Schoeman and Luan de Bruin in the front-row, as Gilchrist returns to the starting XV to partner Marshall Sykes in the second-row.
Number 8 Magnus Bradbury and back-row duo Ritchie and Luke Crosbie complete the pack.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Benetton at the ERS
Scottish Building Society Pre-Season Series (Saturday 18 September, kick-off 3pm)
15. Henry Immelman
Replacements: Boan Venter, Harry Lloyd, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Dan Gamble, Dave Cherry, Patrick Harrison, Pierce Phillips, Nick Haining, Connor Boyle, Ben Muncaster, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Shiel, Charlie Savala, Nathan Chamberlain, James Lang, Chris Dean, Jordan Venter, James Johnstone, Freddie Owsley, Ramiro Moyano, Jack Blain
Unavailable due to injury: Matt Currie, Ben Evans, Jake Henry, Jamie Hodgson, Viliame Mata, Adam McBurney, Harri Morris, WP Nel, Harry Paterson, Nathan Sweeney, Ben Toolis, George Taylor, Jaco van der Walt, Glen Young