HAVING seen his team turn in such a convincing performance to beat Zebre 50-15 last week in their first outing of the season, Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has made just one change to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s match against Cardiff Blues. With hooker Dave Cherry out injured for a month or more, Mike Willemse, as expected, comes into the starting line-up for the first time since joining in the summer. Cammy Fenton is the replacement hooker on an otherwise unchanged bench.
“We were clearly motivated against Zebre,” Cockerill said. “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.”
Twelve players – 11 Scots and Fijian Bill Mata – are still away on World Cup duty, while five others besides Cherry are listed as unavailable due to injury: Ruan Steenkamp, Jack Blain, Chris Dean, Darryl Marfo and Hamish Watson. The latter is now back in the country after injuring a knee in Scotland’s opening World Cup match against Ireland, and Cockerill has pencilled in a return date for him.
“Hamish has been back a few days,” he said. “He’s been to see a specialist about his knee. He’s got a strain on his MCL and we hope he’ll be fit to play by early December.”
Cardiff have also made just one change to their 15, bringing in Owen Lane after the winger missed their win against the Southern Kings because of a minor arm injury. He takes the place of Harri Millard.
Edinburgh (v Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday, kick-off 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports): D Hoyland; J Farndale, M Bennett, M Scott, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom (captain); P Schoeman, M Willemse, P Ceccarelli, F McKenzie, M Douglas, L Carmichael, L Crosbie, N Haining. Substitutes: C Fenton, J Bhatti, M McCallum, M Kunavula, A Miller, C Shiel, S Hickey, G Taylor.
Cardiff: M Morgan, O Lane, G Smith, W Halaholo, A Summerhill; J Evans, L Williams; B Thyer, L Belcher, D Arhip, S Davies, R Thornton, J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams (captain). Substitutes: K Dacey, C Domachowski, S Andrews, S Lewis-Hughes, W Boyde, L Jones, J Tovey, H Millard.