South debuts as Edinburgh make five changes for Connacht
Lock Stan South makes his debut as Edinburgh make five changes for tomorrow night’s Conference B clash against Connacht at BT Murrayfield (Friday 21 February, kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Premier Sports.
Debutant South – who joined from Exeter Chiefs earlier this month - and hooker Mike Willemse both start in a reshuffled tight-five, as Fraser McKenzie and David Cherry miss out through injury.
Scotland international prop Simon Berghan returns to action in the only other alteration to the pack.
In the backline, a new look half-back pairing sees scrum-half Nic Groom – who skippers the side – and stand-off Simon Hickey get the nod for the round 12 match-up in the Scottish capital.
Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “The next two weeks will be important for us. Being top of the conference is great, and we’re delighted with that position, but we’re not getting too excited.
“We’re on good form in the league and the boys have continued to stay in the battle. These parts of the season aren’t about style however, it’s about substance.
“It’s about getting a W at the end of the column, four points, and having an opportunity to compete in the play-offs.
“Connacht are good team and they’ve got a coaching group that like to play. Andy Friend is a great coach and they play some expansive stuff.
“They made a good Cardiff Blues side look very ordinary last weekend, so we know that we’ll have to be at the top of our game come Friday night.”
An unchanged back-three sees Damien Hoyland continue at fullback as Duhan van der Merwe – who grabbed his 10th try of the season against Scarlets last weekend – and Fijian international Eroni Sau continue on the wings.
Scotland centre pairing Matt Scott and Mark Bennett are once again named in midfield, with the aforementioned Groom and Hickey combined at half-back.
Tighthead prop Berghan – who is released from Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations squad for the fixture - packs down alongside Pierre Schoeman and Willemse up front, as locks Lewis Carmichael and South complete the tight-five.
Fijian star Viliame Mata anchors an unaltered back-row that sees Nick Haining and Luke Crosbie once again named at blindside and openside flanker respectively.
Elsewhere, Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy prop Dan Winning is named among the replacements and will make his professional debut if called upon from the bench.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Connacht at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness PRO14
Friday 21 February (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Premier Sports
15. Damien Hoyland (72)
14. Eroni Sau (8)
13. Mark Bennett (35)
12. Matt Scott (93)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (55)
10. Simon Hickey (32)
9. Nic Groom (10) CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (38)
2. Mike Willemse (16)
3. Simon Berghan (76)
4. Stan South*
5. Lewis Carmichael (43)
6. Nick Haining (9)
7. Luke Crosbie (37)
8. Viliame Mata (69)
Replacements: 16. Cameron Fenton (18) 17. Murray McCallum (54) 18. Dan Winning* 19. Jamie Hodgson (5) 20. John Barclay (12) 21. Charlie Shiel (14) 22. Jaco van der Walt (53) 23. George Taylor (18)
Unavailable: Jack Stanley, David Cherry, Jack Blain, Fraser McKenzie, Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury, Blair Kinghorn, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Henry Pyrgos, Jamie Bhatti, Darcy Graham, Pietro Ceccarelli
*Edinburgh Rugby competitive debut