VILIAME MATA has returned from injury and stepped straight into the Edinburgh team for tomorrow [Saturday] night’s URC season opener at home to the Scarlets, as one of two changes to the starting XV which defeated Benetton in the capital outfits final pre-season match against Benetton last weekend. Lee Roy Atalifo also comes in at tight-head prop.
Scotland internationals Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Damien Hoyland, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Ritchie all start, while summer recruits Henry Immelman and Ben Vellacott both make their competitive debuts for the club.
Elsewhere, stand-off Jaco van der Walt returns from injury to be named on the bench with Kinghorn carrying on at stand-off. Fellow Scotland international and summer signing James Lang is also selected on the bench and in line to make his Edinburgh debut.
“There is a real buzz of excitement for Saturday’s league opener and we’ve seen that in training this week with a bit of extra focus and intensity from everyone,” said head coach Mike Blair.
“This match has been a long time coming and we’re really excited to once again play in front of the Edinburgh supporters in what will hopefully be a packed-out DAM Health Stadium.
“The pre-season games gave us a good opportunity to test out a number of different combinations, and give a variety of players game time, but now it’s time to get down to the competitive stuff.
“Scarlets are a quality team, who recently claimed a pre-season win against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, so we’re going to have to be at our best come Saturday night, but the squad are up for the challenge and can’t wait to kick start the new campaign.”
Edinburgh (v Scarlets at The DAM Health Stadium on Saturday 25th September @ 5.15pm): H Immelman; D Graham, M Bennett, C Hutchison, D Hoyland; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott; P Schoeman, S McInally, L Atalifo, M Sykes, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, L Crosbie, V Mata. Substitutes: D Cherry, B Venter, W Net, J Hodgson, C Boyle, H Pyrgos, J van der Walt, H Lang.
Unavailable due to injury: Magnus Bradbury, Matt Currie, Nick Haining, George Taylor, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Glen Young