DUHAN van der Merwe will make his second Edinburgh debut tomorrow after being named in the starting line-up to face Benetton. The winger, who re-joined from Worcester earlier this month, is part of a much-changed team selected by head coach Mike Blair, with seven changes of personnel and a couple of positional switches from the team that lost 22-19 to the Lions last Friday night.
The first of those switches sees Emiliano Boffelli move from the left wing to full-back to accommodate Van der Merwe, with Henry Immelman dropping out. The other is in the back row, where Nick Haining replaces the injured Hamish Watson, but will wear the No 6 jersey, with Luke Crosbie moving to openside.
An all-new front row sees the return of Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry and WP Nel in place of Boan Venter, the injured Stuart McInally and Luan de Bruin, while Sam Skinner is at lock instead of Glen Young. Mark Bennett returns at centre in place of Matt Currie.
“We’re delighted to name Duhan in the starting line-up and he’ll no doubt get an excellent reception from our supporters who’ll be excited to see him back in Edinburgh colours,” Blair said. “We were obviously disappointed with last weekend’s result but, after further review, there were many positives to take into this week’s training and the squad have reacted brilliantly.
“We’ve had a really strong week of training and the guys have been switched on and fully focussed, ready take the field again this Saturday night where’ll face a Benetton side full of confidence. The squad are eager to get back to winning ways and the crowd at DAM Health Stadium will have a huge part to play in driving us forward for the full 80 minutes.”
Jamie Ritchie and Ben Vellacott are out injured in addition to Watson and McInally.
Edinburgh (v Benetton at the DAM Health Stadium, Saturday 5.15pm): E Boffelli; D Graham, M Bennett, J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (captain), N Haining, L Crosbie, V Mata. Substitutes: A McBurney, B Venter, L De Bruin, J Hodgson, B Muncaster, C Shiel, C Savala, C Dean.
Benetton: E Padovani, M Bellini, T Menoncello, M Zanon, R Tavuyara, T Albornoz, S Hidalgo-Clyne, T Gallo, G Lucchesi, N Tetaz, M Lazzaroni (captain), C Wegner, A Steyn, T Halafihi, H Time-Stowers. Substitutes: M Arroyo, F Zani, T Pasquali, N Piantella, A Izekor, M Albanese, F Drago, D Passarella.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa).