EDINBURGH have selected a significantly strengthened line-up for tomorrow’s friendly against Benetton, bringing in five internationals who sat out last week’s defeat by Newcastle. Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie all return to the pack, while Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn are in the back division.

With Jaco van der Walt on the injury list after picking up a knock in the 26-10 loss to the Falcons, Kinghorn starts at stand-off, a position in which head coach Mike Blair is keen to see how he goes. Back-up 10s Charlie Savala and Nathan Chamberlain are both among the replacements, while summer signings Freddie Owsley and James Lang could make their debuts off the bench.

There are six changes in all from the team that began last week’s first match at the ERS, the sixth being the return of Pierre Schoeman to the front row. That selection and the return of the Scotland quintet suggests that this side is pretty close to the one that will start the team’s first game in the United Rugby Championship, at home to Scarlets a week tomorrow[Sat 25].

“We’re delighted to welcome back a number of the club’s experienced internationalists for this game,” Blair said after naming his team to play against the Rainbow Cup winners. “They’ll all have significant roles to play as the United Rugby Championship gets started in just over a week’s time, and it’s important that they get this game time under their belts as we approach the season kick-off.

“While we were clearly disappointed with the result against Falcons, there were plenty of positives to take out of the overall performance. I’m keen that we continue to build on those fundamentals this weekend.

“Benetton are a quality side that were worthy and deserved winners of the Rainbow Cup, while they’re a team that we’ll face twice in our URC Conference. We look forward to the challenge that Saturday’s match-up presents and the squad are excited to once again play in front of our home support in our brand-new stadium.”


Edinburgh (v Benetton at the ERS, tomorrow 3pm): H Immelman; D Graham, M Bennett, C Hutchison, D Hoyland; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott; P Schoeman, S McInally, L de Bruin, M  Sykes, G Gilchrist (captain), J Ritchie, L Crosbie, M  Bradbury. Substitutes: B Venter, H Lloyd, L Atalifo, D Gamble, D Cherry, P Harrison, P Phillips, N Haining, C Boyle, B Muncaster, H Pyrgos, C Shiel, C Savala, N Chamberlain, J Lang, C Dean, J Venter, J Johnstone, F Owsley, R Moyano, J Blain.