EDINBURGH welcome back Emiliano Boffelli and a number of their senior Scotland internationals for Sunday’s Champions Cup pool match against Castres. There are eight changes in all from the team that struggled to dispose of Zebre in last week’s URC match.
In addition to winger Boffelli, Henry Immelman also returns from injury to take his place in the back three. The other six changes are in the pack, where Pierre Schoeman, Luan de Bruin, Marshall Sykes, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie and Bill Mata all feature. Sykes, De Bruin and Mata all came off the bench to help the side to a 24-17 win over Zebre last Saturday, while the other three were rested along with WP Nel, who is named among the substitutes tomorrow.
Blair Kinghorn continues on the left wing, having played there last week because of the number of injuries in the back three. Charlie Savala keeps the No 10 jersey. Sam Skinner, who played at lock last week, moves to blindside to make way for Sykes and Gilchrist, while Jamie Hodgson drops to the bench.
“There’s often a different buzz around the club when European rugby returns and we’ve felt that in training this week,” head coach Mike Blair said. “There’s been a brilliant energy and guys are really excited to take on Castres in their own backyard.
“Castres are a quality outfit and their proud home record is well documented. I was lucky enough to play in the club’s win at Stade Pierre-Fabre back in 2008 alongside our head of strength & conditioning, Mark Robertson. It was a team performance filled with guts and determination – we’ll need that again from 1-23 this Sunday.
“We’ve spoken a lot this week around Edinburgh’s history and tradition in the Champions Cup – it’s a competition that we really enjoy playing in. I want our players to express themselves in France, while fronting up to the physical challenge of a Castres side who will be energised by their home support.”
Fourteen players are listed as unavailable for the trip: Luke Crosbie, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Wes Goosen, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, James Lang, Stuart McInally, Ben Muncaster, Harry Paterson, Pierce Phillips, Duhan van der Merwe, Hamish Watson and Angus Williams.
Castres (v Edinburgh at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, Sunday 1pm UK time): T Larregain; M Laveau, V Botitu, A Seguret, G Palis; B Urdapilleta, G Doubrere; Q Walcker, G Barlot, W Hounkpatin, L Nakarawa (captain), T Hannoyer, B Cope, J Raisuqe, T Ben-Nicholas. Substitutes: P Colonna, M Tierney, A Azar, R Pieterse, T Staniforth, K Kornath, S Arata Perrone, A Cocagi.
Edinburgh (v Castres): H Immelman; E Boffelli, M Bennett, C Hutchison, B Kinghorn; C Savala, C Shiel; P Schoeman, D Cherry, L de Bruin, M Sykes, G Gilchrist (captain), S Skinner, J Ritchie, V Mata. Substitutes: P Harrison, B Venter, W Nel, J Hodgson, N Haining, B Vellacott, C Scott, J Blain.