BEN TOOLIS has returned from shoulder surgery to jump straight back into the Edinburgh starting XV for tomorrow evening’s Guinness PRO14 play-off semi-final clash against Ulster at Murrayfield. He will partner Grant Gilchrist – who returns to the side for his 150th club appearance after being rested last week –in the engine-room
Magnus Bradbury gets the nod at blindside flanker lining up with Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata in a powerful back-row, while Jamie Ritchie returns from a finger injury to offer some serious firepower off the bench.
Rory Sutherland, captain Stuart McInally and WP Nel are the starting front-row, but expect Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse and Simon Berghan to be sent on for extra oomph early in the second half.
In the backline, scrum-half Nic Groom, stand-off Jaco van der Walt and outside centre Mark Bennett rejoin the side having been rested last week, while the back-three of Darcy Graham, Duhan van der Merwe and Blair Kinghorn are capable of doing some serious damage given half a chance.
“We want to go as far as we can and test ourselves to see how good we are. If we’re good enough we’ll win, and if we’re not, we’ll get exactly what we deserve,” said Cockerill
“As a club, we’ve been building to this point and I’m hoping those experiences of the last three seasons will come to fruition on Saturday night. It’s about knowing how to play knock-out rugby and not playing an exhibition.
“Ulster are a great side. We look forward to the challenge and we know at the pressure moments we need to deliver. This is new territory for us. We’re capable – if we get things right – to get to a final and see how good we can be.”
Meanwhile, Ulster have made three changes to the side which went down to Leinster last week, with stand-off Billy Burns returning to captain the side.
Edinburgh Rugby (v Ulster at BT Murrayfield, Saturday 5th August, 7.35pm): B Kinghorn; D Graham, M Bennett, C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom; R Sutherland, S McInally (captain), W Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, H Watson, V Mata.
Substitutes: M Willemse, P Schoeman, S Berghan, A Davidson, C Shiel, N Chamberlain, G Taylor.
Ulster: J Stockdale; L Ludik, J Hume, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, R Herring, T O’Toole, A O’Connor, S Carter, M Rea, J Murphy, M Coetzee.
Substitutes: J Andrew, J McGrath, M Moore, K Treadwell, S Reidy, A Mathewson, I Madigan, M Lowry.