EDINBURGH coach Mike Blair has made three changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow’s Champions Cup match at home to Castres – two up front and one behind the scrum.
The only alteration to the back division from Sunday’s 30-26 loss to Saracens is at outside centre, where Matt Currie takes over from Mark Bennett, who went off in that match with a head injury and is still going through his return-to-play protocol. In the pack, WP Nel starts at tighthead in place of Luan de Bruin and Glen Young is at lock instead of Jamie Hodgson.
On the bench, hooker Tom Cruse is named instead of Patrick Harrison, Angus Williams comes in as tighthead replacement, and Chris Dean is the backs replacement instead of Damian Hoyland. In addition to Bennett, eight players are listed as unavailable: Dave Cherry, Darcy Graham, Nick Haining, Cammy Hutchison, Henry Immelman, Adam McBurney, Sam Skinner and Hamish Watson.
“We have spoken a lot this week about maintaining the standards set in last weekend’s match with Saracens,” Blair said. “Defensively, it was probably our best shift of the season so far, and I thought we were excellent in and around the breakdown where we battled for everything.
“Champions Cup rugby is like Test match rugby, so we need those levels of fight and intensity for the full 80 minutes this weekend as we take on a quality Castres side who were runners-up in last season’s Top 14. It’s really exciting to bring Champions Cup rugby back to Edinburgh and we’re anticipating a brilliant atmosphere from our fans come kick-off on Saturday.”
Castres have omitted many of their best-known players from their squad, including Leone Nakarawa, the former Glasgow lock.
Edinburgh (v Castres at the DAM Health Stadium, Saturday 1pm): E Boffelli; W Goosen, M Currie, J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott; P Schoeman, S McInally, W Nel, G Young, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, L Crosbie, V Mata. Substitutes: T Cruse, B Venter, A Williams, M Sykes, B Muncaster, C Shiel, C Savala, C Dean.
Castres: J Dumora; M Laveau, A Zeghdar, A Seguret, A Bouzerand; B Botica, J Blanc; Q Walcker, P Colonna, A Azar, G Maravat, T Hannoyer, B Delaporte (captain), A Usarraga, K Kornath. Substitutes: B Humbert, L Guerois-Galisson, A Guillamon, F Vanverberghe, B Cope, J Raisuqe, R Kockott, T Larregain.
Referee: T Foley (England).