HOOKER Dave Cherry (out with a hamstring injury since October) and No 8 Nick Haining (out for the last month with a calf injury) will return to action to add international experience to the Edinburgh pack as they look to get their season back on track against winless URC strugglers Zebre at the DAM Health Stadium tomorrow [Saturday].
Head coach Mike Blair has made nine changes in total to the side which started last weekend’s defeat to Glasgow. There are six back-three players listed as unavailable which may help explain why Blair Kinghorn has been switched from stand-off to the left wing, with Jack Blain coming on to the right wing. Meanwhile, Cammy Hutchison makes his first start of the season at inside-centre, and Charlie Savala starts at No 10 alongside Charlie Shiel coming in at scrum-half.
In the pack, Angus Williams starts at tight-head prop, Jamie Hodgson comes into the second-row, and Connor Boyle starts at open-side flanker in a re-shuffled back-row which features Luke Crosbie moving to blindside and taking on the captaincy
“We’re really excited to give a number of players their opportunity this weekend and they’ll be raring to step up and represent the city in a hugely important fixture for the club,” said Blair.
“We’ve talked a lot this week around those one, two, three percenters and we’ve worked a lot on individual prep and detail that will stand us in good stead heading into Saturday.
“Zebre Parma ran us really close last season, at home, so we know how dangerous they can be if they get space and momentum.”
Edinburgh (v Zebre at The DAM Health Stadium, Saturday 7th January, kick-off 3pm): H Paterson; J Blain, M Bennett, C Hutchison, B Kinghorn; C Savala, C Shiel; B Venter, D Cherry, A Williams, S Skinner, J Hodgson, L Crosbie, C Boyle, N Haining. Substitutes: P Harrison, N Auterac, L de Bruin, M Sykes, V Mata, B Vellacott, J van der Walt, C J Lang.
Unavailable: Emiliano Boffelli, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Wes Goosen, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Henry Immelman, Adam McBurney, Stuart McInally, Pierce Phillips, Duhan van der Merwe, Hamish Watson.
Rest protocol: Grant Gilchrist, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman.