Willemse to make first start against Cardiff Blues
Summer signing Mike Willemse is named in the starting line-up as Edinburgh Rugby make just one change for their trip to face Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park this Saturday (5 October, kick-off 5.15pm) – live on Premier Sports.
The inclusion of South African hooker, Willemse – who replaces the injured Dave Cherry to make his first start for the club – is the only alteration to the starting XV that defeated Zebre 50-15 last weekend as Head Coach Richard Cockerill names a settled side for tomorrow evening’s contest.
Ahead of the fixture, Cockerill said: “We were clearly motivated against Zebre. We have worked hard at our fitness and we are trying to play a bit differently this year. Hopefully people will start to see us being a bit more threatening with ball in hand.
“This weekend is about getting our preparations right. We started the 2017/18 season there and won. Our first year together as group we were very good away from home, but last year we had a habit of losing those matches by very close margins.
“Cardiff aren’t missing as many guys as we are and they will probably be thinking they can get off to a good start in the competition. We know their threats and they are a good team – but we’re a good team as well and we’re going there to win.
“If we get it right and play as well as I know we can, we’ll definitely give ourselves an opportunity to do that.”
An unchanged back-three sees Damien Hoyland named at fullback with wingers Jamie Farndale – who scored his first try for the club in Saturday’s win over Zebre – and Duhan van der Merwe selected on the flanks.
Mark Bennett once again gets the nod at outside centre following his impressive three-try performance last weekend, while Matt Scott – who also touched down against Zebre – continues alongside him in midfield.
South African duo Nic Groom – who once again skippers the side following Saturday’s try-scoring debut – and Jaco van der Walt continue their half-back partnership.
The inclusion of Willemse at hooker is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged front-row as the former Southern Kings man packs down alongside props Pierre Schoeman and Pietro Ceccarelli.
Murray Douglas and club centurion Fraser McKenzie continue in the second-row, while No.8 Nick Haining anchors a back-row trio that once again features flankers Lewis Carmichael and Luke Crosbie.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park in the Guinness PRO14
Saturday 5 October (kick-off 5.15pm) – live on Premier Sports
15. Damien Hoyland (64)
14. Jamie Farndale (3)
13. Mark Bennett (21)
12. Matt Scott (84)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (42)
10. Jaco van der Walt (40)
9. Nic Groom (1) CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (24)
2. Mike Willemse (1)
3. Pietro Ceccarelli (11)
4. Fraser McKenzie (114)
5. Murray Douglas (2)
6. Lewis Carmichael (34)
7. Luke Crosbie (27)
8. Nick Haining (1)
Replacements: 16. Cameron Fenton (12) 17. Jamie Bhatti (1) 18. Murray McCallum (50) 19. Mesu Kunavula (1) 20. Ally Miller (9) 21. Charlie Shiel (9) 22. Simon Hickey (20) 23. George Taylor (5)
Unavailable due to injury: Ruan Steenkamp, Jack Blain, Hamish Watson, Chris Dean, David Cherry, Darryl Marfo
Unavailable due to international selection: W.P Nel, Simon Berghan, Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury, John Barclay, Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Henry Pyrgos, Viliame Mata