EDINBURGH coach Richard Cockerill has reshuffled his side considerably for the second week running, making 13 changes for the Challenge Cup match against Bordeaux-Begles at Murrayfield tomorrow night. Eight of those coming into the side are full internationalists, from Blair Kinghorn at full-back to No 8 Bill Mata.
Winger Eroni Sau and lock Grant Gilchrist are the only players to hold on to their places from last week’s 31-10 win at Agen, a match which saw 12 changes from the previous week. That Pool Three victory was especially impressive given the number of inexperienced players who began the game, but Cockerill appears to expect a tougher challenge tonight, and has opted for experience across the board.
“We enjoyed a good win in Agen last weekend and we want to keep the momentum going against Bordeaux this Friday night,” he said. “We’ve made a number of changes to the starting line-up – bringing back plenty of experience across the board – and I expect us to perform on the night. We’re back at BT Murrayfield in front of our own supporters and we always want to do well at home.
“We know how difficult a test we face tomorrow night. Bordeaux are second in the Top 14 for a reason and have players throughout their squad that can cause damage on any stage. However, we’ve had a really good training week and the boys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Thirteen players are listed as unavailable: Darryl Marfo, Dave Cherry, Jamie Ritchie, Ruan Steenkamp, Hamish Watson, Darcy Graham, Jack Stanley, Nic Groom, Damien Hoyland, Rory Darge, WP Nel, Fraser McKenzie and Chris Dean. Stuart McInally is also still being rested after the World Cup, but he is expected to return along with Nel for next weekend’s PRO14 match against Munster. Nick Haining is also unavailable as he starts a two-week suspension for an offence against Agen.
Edinburgh (v Bordeaux-Begles at Murrayfield, Friday 7.35pm): Blair Kinghorn; Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos (captain); Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Pietro Ceccarelli, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Bill Mata. Subs: Cameron Fenton, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Murray Douglas, John Barclay, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, George Taylor.
Bordeaux-Begles: Romain Buros; Santiago Cordero, Semi Radradra, Ulupano Seuteni, Blair Connor; Matthieu Jalibert (captain), Maxime Lucu; Thierry Paiva, Adrien Pélissié, Lekso Kaulashvili, Kane Douglas, Alexandre Flanquart, Beka Gorgadze, Cameron Woki, Scott Higginbotham. Subs: Clément Renaud, Ravai Kovekalou, Zakaria El Fakir, Jandré Marais, Marco Tauleigne, Jules Gimbert, Ben Botica, Seta Tamanivalu.
Referee: C Ridley (England).