Storylines: Zebre

Storylines: Zebre

Edinburgh Rugby get their Rainbow Cup campaign started tonight with Zebre the visitors to BT Murrayfield.

There are the storylines to look out for as we approach the 8.15pm kick-off in the Scottish capital.

Cockerill opts for youth

The Rainbow Cup was always going to give sides an opportunity to blood academy talent and Head Coach Richard Cockerill has done just that - opting for youthful squad to take on Zebre this evening.

With an average age of 24.5, the starting XV features three FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy players that will be desperate to impress from the get-go.

North Berwick RFC product Ben Muncaster, 19, makes his professional debut at No. 8 having joined the club's Academy from Leicester Tigers last summer.

Centre Matt Currie, 20, makes his first start having impressed from the bench against both Munster and Dragons, while stand-off Nathan Chamberlain returns at stand-off, hoping to replicate the late game heroics that saw him grab an 83rd minute match-winner in last month's road win in Connacht.

With the ongoing covid-19 pandemic putting a halt to the majority of rugby at age-grade level, the capital side's academy prospects have seen very little action in the last 12 months. They'll be champing at the bit to get their hands on the ball this evening.

Captain Crosbie

The Edinburgh 'young team' is skippered this evening by Livingston RFC man Luke Crosbie, who will no doubt be immensely proud to captain his boyhood club for the first time.

Crosbie - who turned 24 yesterday - has been an ever-impressive performer since making his debut in 2017 and only recently made his 50th appearance in the home match-up with Scarlets.

The hard-running, touch-tacking back-row has always been a player that gives his all - no matter the game or opponent - and wearing the captain's armband will only raise his intensity as he leads an exciting back-row unit alongside Mesu Kunavula and Ben Muncaster.

Centre of excellence

Tonight's midfield combination sees George Taylor, 24 and Currie, 20, start together for the first time and supporters will be eager to see how the pair link-up from the get-go.

Taylor has been in impressive form since returning from injury and then suspension earlier this year, with the inside centre's courageous running and ability to break the gain line a real asset for what has been a young Edinburgh back line throughout 2020-21.

Taylor will have the running support of Currie this evening, with the Academy star making his first start in the No.13 jersey.

Currie - who came through the ranks at the city's Merchiston Castle School - is highly rated at the club and has so far looked exciting in limited game time.

The centre has shown up well in defence so far - which bodes well for his overall development - but will be keen to show that he's a threat going forward too.

Bench options

Although Edinburgh are clearly looking to develop the club's younger players during this Rainbow Cup campaign, they can call on four highly experienced players from the bench if needed.

Club centurions WP Nel and Chris Dean will be ready to pull on the jersey, while Pierre Schoeman and Bill Mata are also two handy options to bring off the bench - Mata in particular will be excited at the prospect of running at tired bodies late on.

At the other end of the spectrum, burgeoning prospects such as back-row Connor Boyle - who last week penned a new deal with the club - and Academy duo Roan Frostwick and Patrick Harrison will all be eager to impress as Edinburgh return to action at BT Murrayfield.

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