EDINBURGH will be without their captain, Stuart McInally, for another month as the hooker is afforded an extended break following his return from the World Cup.

A number of the internationalists who were in Japan are already back in the club fold, but Edinburgh head coach, Richard Cockerill has revealed that those in charge of the national team have indicated that McInally should be given a longer break than some, just as Jonny Gray is getting at Glasgow Warriors.

“Stuart McInally (is getting 6 weeks off),” he revealed.

“It was a decision from Gregor (Townsend) around rest times – the SRU stipulated what rest periods the players were required to have.”


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As a result, McInally will miss Edinburgh’s first two rounds of the European Challenge Cup, which begins later this month, and Cockerill also revealed that WP Nel will also be out until after the first round of European games.

It may be a blow to the team but Cockerill is adamant that the players must be given the time they need to recover from their recent exertions.

“We’ll just manage them individually and make sure that when they’re back, they’re ready to commit fully,” he said.

“They’ve had a long time away from home and emotionally as well as physically, that’s pretty draining. I’ve experienced that myself.”

Cockerill is in the fortunate position of not having to rush the international players back as his team have been in excellent form during their absence.

“(Simon) Berghan and (Ben) Toolis were available last week and this week but we’ve had discussions and I’ve chosen to give them a bit more time,” he said.

“Next week, (Grant) Gilchrist, (Jamie) Ritchie, (John) Barclay and (Darcy) Graham will come back to training.

“We’re going well at the moment so we’ll continue with the guys we’ve got and then bring the others back when they’re ready to be fully integrated into playing and training.”

Edinburgh travel to Treviso to take on Benetton this evening and Cockerill has made five changes to the team that was so impressive in defeating Scarlets last weekend.

Scotland internationalists Jamie Bhatti, Lewis Carmichael, Magnus Bradbury and Damien Hoyland all start, while last season’s Golden Boot winner Jaco van der Walt returns at stand-off.


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Fijian international back-row, Viliame Mata, is named among the replacements for the first time this season following his return from the World Cup, and scrum-half Nic Groom returns to the bench after missing last match due to the birth of his child.

Duhan van der Merwe, who was man of the match last weekend following a hat-trick of tries, drops out of the line-up entirely as Cockerill rests the South African in anticipation of a long, hard season.

“We have now got 12 games on the bounce, 13 on the bounce if you take it back to last weekend. The guys can’t play in every game.

“Last year we were forced a little bit because of injuries around the number of games that guys played.”

Edinburgh fell to defeat to Benetton last season and so despite their good form this year, there is no hint of complacency setting in.

“It’s a case of backing up what we did last week. Benetton have been a different team over the past two or three years,” he said.

“We know they’ll be difficult opposition and they’ll also be looking to integrate players back into their team. We need to go there and put a performance in if we want to take the points.”