Team named for United Rugby Championship home opener
Head Coach Mike Blair today named the Edinburgh Rugby side to face Scarlets in tomorrow evening’s United Rugby Championship opener at DAM Health Stadium (Saturday 25 September, kick-off 5.15pm) – live on Premier Sports.
Edinburgh make two changes to the side that claimed a 50-29 victory over Benetton in last Saturday’s Scottish Building Society Pre-Season Series friendly as Fijian internationals Viliame Mata – who returns from injury - and Lee Roy Atalifo both start the Round 1 match-up.
Scotland internationals Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Damien Hoyland, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie all start, while summer recruits Henry Immelman and Ben Vellacott both make their competitive debuts for the club.
Elsewhere, stand-off Jaco van der Walt returns from injury to be named among the replacements, with fellow Scotland international and summer signing James Lang also selected on the bench and in line to make his Edinburgh debut.
Head Coach Mike Blair, said: “There is a real buzz of excitement for Saturday’s league opener and we’ve seen that in training this week with a bit of extra focus and intensity from everyone.
“This match has been a long time coming and we’re really excited to once again play in front of the Edinburgh supporters in what will hopefully be a packed-out DAM Health Stadium.
“The pre-season games gave us a good opportunity to test out a number of different combinations, and give a variety of players game time, but now it’s time to get down to the competitive stuff.
“Scarlets are a quality team, who recently claimed a pre-season win against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, so we’re going to have to be at our best come Saturday night, but the squad are up for the challenge and can’t wait to kick start the new campaign.”
An unchanged back-three sees debutant full-back Immelman selected alongside wingers Hoyland and Graham.
Bennett – a try-scorer in both pre-season fixtures at DAM Health Stadium – once again links up with Cammy Hutchison in midfield, as scrum-half Vellacott and stand-off Kinghorn continue at half-back.
The inclusion of Atalfio at tighthead is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged front row as the Fijian packs down alongside hooker McInally and loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman.
Locks Grant Gilchrist and Marshall Sykes continue in the boiler room and form the remainder of the tight-five.
With Mata returning at number 8, Ritchie and Luke Crosbie are once again selected at blindside and openside flanker respectively, completing the pack.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Scarlets at DAM Health Stadium in the United Rugby Championship
Saturday 25 September, kick-off 5.15pm) – live on Premier Sports
15. Henry Immelman *
14. Darcy Graham (39)
13. Mark Bennett (54)
12. Cammy Hutchison (2)
11. Damien Hoyland (85)
10. Blair Kinghorn (102)
9. Ben Vellacott*
1. Pierre Schoeman (65)
2. Stuart McInally (153)
3. Lee Roy Atalifo (10)
4. Marshall Sykes (8)
5. Grant Gilchrist (159) CAPTAIN
6. Jamie Ritchie (77)
7. Luke Crosbie (58)
8. Viliame Mata (89)
Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry (36) 17. Boan Venter (8) 18. WP Nel (156) 19. Jamie Hodgson (23) 20. Connor Boyle (7) 21. Henry Pyrgos (53) 22. Jaco van der Walt (71) 23. James Lang*
Unavailable due to injury: Magnus Bradbury, Matt Currie, Nick Haining, George Taylor, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Glen Young
*Edinburgh Rugby competitive debut