MIKE Blair has made seven changes to his team to face the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow, strengthening his squad considerably compared to the one selected for last week’s win over the Dragons.
The three changes in the back division see James Lang return at centre and Blair Kinghorn and Henry Pyrgos come in as the half-back combination. Up front, Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel both start after coming off the bench at half-time last week and playing a major role in the 44-6 victory over the Welsh team. Sam Skinner, who made his debut off the bench in that first competitive outing of the season, is promoted to the starting 15 and will partner co-captain Grant Gilchrist, who sat out the Dragons game.
Hamish Watson, Luan de Bruin and Jaco van der Walt are also set for their first involvement of the season after being named on the replacements list. De Bruin turned out for the Southern Knights in Super6 last week on his return to action from injury.
“It’s been a good week of training as we once again acclimatise to conditions in South Africa – the squad are raring to go,” Blair said after announcing his team. “We’ve talked about the brilliant challenge of facing teams like Bulls in their own backyard and that’s added another layer of motivation for us as a team. These are the games you want to be playing in, especially in one of the world rugby’s great stadiums like Loftus.
“As we saw last season, Bulls are a hugely physical side with try-scoring threats across the park. We know we’re going to have to be at our best this weekend, but we’re thrilled with the opportunity to once again represent Edinburgh and our supporters back home.”
Edinburgh (v the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, Saturday 1.30pm British time, 2.30pm local): H Immelman; D Graham, M Bennett, J Lang, D Hoyland; B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (co-captain), J Ritchie (co-captain), L Crosbie, V Mata. Substitutes: S McInally, B Venter, L de Bruin, M Sykes, H Watson, B Vellacott, J van der Walt, C Dean.
Bulls: J Goosen; C Hendricks, L Mapoe, D Kriel, S Jacobs; C Smith, Z Burger; G Steenekamp, J Grobbelaar, M Smith, W Steenkamp, R Nortje, M Coetzee (captain), R Vermaak, E Louw. Substitutes: J-H Wessels, S Matanzima, F Klopper, J Swanepoel, M van Staden, E Papier, M Steyn, S Gans.
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales).