Sale v Edinburgh: key men missing for crucial Champions Cup clash

Darcy Graham, Jamie Ritchie and Henry Pyrgos are all rested, while Andrew Davidson joins the injured list

Jack Blain
Jack Blain scored a first-half try for Edinburgh against Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson -

EDINBURGH will be without key men Darcy Graham, Jamie Ritchie and club vice-captain Henry Pyrgos for tomorrow night’s must-win Champions Cup pool clash against Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.

All three are fit but being rested as part of a wider strategy for managing workload over the course of the whole season. Their absence creates opportunities for youngsters Jack Blain and Charlie Shiel at wing and scrum-half, respectively, while Magnus Bradbury joins the back-row.

Second-row Andrew Davidson is also missing after picking up an ankle injury last weekend, and is replaced by Jamie Hodgson.

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It will be a landmark occasion for two hometown boys, with Stuart McInally set to make his 150th appearance for the club and Chris Dean bringing up his century.

“It’s a great achievement to represent the club so many times, something which has taken a great deal of commitment from both men over the years,” said head coach Richard Cockerill.

“They’re both Edinburgh boys and we know it means a lot to them, with Chris now keeping impressive company on our centurions’ board in the team room.”

Cockerill has also rotated props with Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan starting, while Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel drop to the bench.

Both sides go into the match off the back of opening round defeats to French opposition so there is no room for another setback.

“The format and quality of this season’s tournament means it’s incredibly difficult to qualify for the knockout rounds,” added Cockerill.

“We were good in parts against a very good La Rochelle side last weekend, but we’ll need to be better against Sale tomorrow.

“We’re going to need our best performance of the season.”

Edinburgh (v Sale Sharks at AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday 19th December @ 8pm): B Kinghorn; J Blain, M Bennett C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, C Shiel; R Sutherland, S McInally (C), S Berghan, B Toolis, J Hodgson, M Bradbury, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: D Cherry, P Schoeman, W Nel, A Ferreira, L Crosbie, N Groom, N Chamberlain, J Johnstone.

Unavailable through injury (11): Lewis Carmichael, Andrew Davidson, Grant Gilchrist, Matt Gordon, Nick Haining, Damien Hoyland, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie, Dan Nutton, Charlie Savala, George Taylor.

Sale Sharks: S Adams; D Solomona, J Van Rensburg, S Hill, M Yarde; R Du Preez, F De Klerk; Rodd, van der Merwe, J Cooper-Woolley, M Postlethwaite, JP Du Preez, C Wiese, S Dugdale, JL Du Preez. Substitutes: C Langdon, R Harrison, C Oosthuizen, J Phillips, C Neild, W Cliff, C Doherty, L James.

Referee: Romain Poite (France).

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About David Barnes 4004 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.