MIKE Blair’s first selection as Edinburgh’s head coach includes three of this summer’s new arrivals in the starting 15, with several others on the bench. Ben Vellacott is at scrum-half, Luan de Bruin is at tighthead prop and Henry Immelman is at full-back for tomorrow’s friendly against Newcastle, while Argentine international Ramiro Moyano is listed among the substitutes along with Harry Lloyd, Adam McBurney and Pierce Phillips.
The game against the Falcons will be the first at the new Edinburgh Rugby Stadium (ERS for short) and will also see spectators return in substantial numbers for the first time since before the pandemic.
“This Saturday we celebrate something much bigger than 80 minutes,” Blair said after announcing his team. “It’s an exciting moment in Edinburgh Rugby’s history and a fresh start that our supporters, players and everyone connected to the club have been looking forward to.
“As a team, we cannot wait to run out into the ERS for the first time, and to do so in front of our supporters, who’ve waited so patiently for this day through the midst of a pandemic, will be a really special moment.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season so far and the boys have worked incredibly hard to get themselves match ready for this first hit out. This game gives the players the opportunity to put that hard work and effort they’ve given throughout pre-season onto the pitch. They’ve all put in the hard yards during the last few months and now it’s about playing rugby.”
Southern Knights players Patrick Anderson and Daniel Suddon are part of the 17-man bench.
Edinburgh (v Newcastle Falcons at the ERS, Saturday 3pm): Henry Immelman; Jack Blain, Mark Bennett, Cammy Hutchison, Damien Hoyland; Jaco van der Walt, Ben Vellacott; Boan Venter, David Cherry (captain), Luan de Bruin, Marshall Sykes, Jamie Hodgson, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Nick Haining. Substitutes: Pierre Schoeman, Harry Lloyd, Adam McBurney, Patrick Harrison, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Angus Williams, Pierce Phillips, Daniel Suddon, Ben Muncaster, Connor Boyle, Charlie Shiel, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Ramiro Moyano, Jordan Venter, James Johnstone, Patrick Anderson.
Unavailable due to injury: Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Ben Evans, Darcy Graham, Jake Henry, James Lang, Viliame Mata, Harri Morris, WP Nel, Harry Paterson, Nathan Sweeney, Ben Toolis, George Taylor, Glen Young.