JACO van der Walt will miss Edinburgh’s game against Benetton on Sunday because of injury, causing a potential problem for Scotland coach Gregor Townsend should he fail to recover in time to play against Ireland next weekend. There was no immediate word on the nature of the stand-off’s injury, but with Glasgow’s Adam Hastings suspended for both the Ireland and Italy games, Townsend will hope that Van der Walt is passed fit next week so he can provide bench cover for Finn Russell.
Nathan Chamberlain comes in at 10 for Van der Walt in an Edinburgh line-up that shows six changes in all from the team that began last week’s narrow defeat by Scarlets. Charlie Shiel is in at scrum-half to partner Chamberlain, while the other change in the back division sees Jack Blain take over on the right wing from Darcy Graham, who has been retained by Scotland.
In the pack, Dave Cherry starts at hooker after being on the bench last week, while Andrew Davidson is at lock in place of Grant Gilchrist, another who has been kept back by Scotland. Luke Crosbie comes into the back row, with Bill Mata missing out because of injury.
Seven players in all are listed as unavailable because of Scotland duty: Gilchrist, Graham, Duhan van der Merwe, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.
“There were a lot of positives to take from our performance against Scarlets last weekend, but unfortunately there were elements that meant we fell short on the scoreboard at the end,” head coach Richard Cockerill said of the 27-25 loss which effectively ended his team’s hopes of a top-three place in PRO14 Conference B.
“This Sunday is another opportunity to continue those improvements and correct some of the elements that came unstuck. We’ve used the eight-day turnaround between these games well to work on our game plan and execution.
“Benetton are good side that will pose some real physical challenges. They’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain from the foot of the table, which can give teams a renewed sense of confidence and belief, and make them a real threat. It’s another opportunity to pull on the Edinburgh shirt and face quality, physical opposition and one we’re looking forward to.”
Edinburgh (v Benetton at BT Murrayfield, Sunday 3.15pm): D Hoyland; J Blain, J Johnstone, G Taylor, E Sau; N Chamberlain, C Shiel; P Schoeman (captain), D Cherry, L Atalifo, M Bradbury, A Davidson, L Crosbie, A Miller, N Haining. Substitutes: M Willemse, B Venter, S Berghan, A Ferreira, M Kunavula, H Pyrgos, C Savala, M Bennett.