JOHN BARCLAY returns from concussion to line up at open side flanker for Edinburgh against Southern Kings at Murrayfield tomorrow night (Saturday 4 January, kick-off 7.45pm), as part of a drastically revamped side to the one which defeated Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
Full-back Blair Kinghorn, winger Duhan van Der Merwe, tight-head prop WP Nel and second-row Grant Gilchrist are the only players to retain their place in the starting XV for the clash against the bottom side in Conference B of the PRO14.
Jaco van der Walt returns to the starting XV at stand-off to make his 50th appearance and his half-back partner will be Henry Pyrgos, who captains the side. with an all-new centre pairing outside them of Matt Scott and James Johnstone selected in midfield. Fijian international Eroni Sau returns on the wing.
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In the pack, loosehead prop Jamie Bhatti gets the nod alongside hooker Mike Willemse in the front-row. Stuart McInally is out with a rib injury.
Lewis Carmichael makes his eighth appearance of the season in the middle-row alongside Gilchrist, while Barclay is joined in the back-row by return by Magnus Bradbury at blindside flanker and Nick Haining at No. 8 respectively.
“We were obviously delighted with the derby win last weekend, but as we’ve spoken about all week in training, it means nothing if we don’t turn up and perform against Southern Kings tomorrow night,” said Cockerill.
“We are proud of our unbeaten home record at BT Murrayfield and we want to keep it that way. We are playing with confidence and determination, and hopefully that continues as we face a really tough and much improved Kings side.
“We’ve made a number of changes to the team, but it is still an experienced squad who are more than capable of putting in a winning performance.
Edinburgh Rugby (to face Southern Kings at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness PRO14 on Saturday 4 January, kick-off 7.45pm): B Kinghorn; E Sau, J Johnstone, M Scott, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (C); J Bhatti, M Willems, W Nel, L Carmichael, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, J Barclay, N Haining. Subs: D Cherry, P Schoeman, S Berghan, B Toolis, L Crosbie, C Shiel, S Hickey, M Bennett.
Unavailable: Fraser McKenzie, Chris Dean, Viliame Mata, Jamie Ritchie, Stuart McInally.
Southern Kings: C Winnaar; Y Penxe, S Sithole, H Mnisi (C), E Cronje; J Jackson, S Ungerer; S Ferreira, J du Toit, P Scholtz, J Sexton, A Fortuin, R Lerm, T Bholi, E Louw. Subs: A van Rooyen, X Vos, D Terblanche, J Astle, B de Wee, T Maree, B Pretorius, A Loubser.