SCOTLAND Six Nations squad members Darcy Graham and Harry Paterson will miss Edinburgh’s final match before the international window opens through injury, but are hopeful of being fit to be part of the selection conversation for the national team’s trip to Cardiff to take on Wales on 3rd February.
Winger Graham, who has scored 24 tries in 39 caps and is one of the first names on the national team-sheet when fit, picked up a quad injury versus Gloucester last weekend.
Uncapped back-three player Paterson, a 22-year-old who has shown huge potential in his eight pro appearances to date in his fledgling career, has a shoulder issue.
“We’ve got a few niggles at the moment but we don’t know the extent of those, we’ll get feedback later on today,” said Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt ahead of tomorrow night’s final European Challenge Cup pool match away to Scarlets.
“Unfortunately, Darcy has been plagued by injuries since coming back from the World Cup, so it’s been difficult for him. We’re not sure of the extent of this one, and we just hope it is not as bad as it could be.
“Harry picked up a shoulder niggle in the game [against Gloucester] and he’s just carrying a few aches and pains so we thought it would be good for him to have a rest this week.
With Wes Goosen also picking up an injury (also quad) last week, Duhan van der Merwe‘s return after missing last weekend’s game to attend his twin sister’s wedding is timely boost to the back-three, while experienced centre Chris Dean has been forced into action on the other wing as emergency cover.
Jamie Ritchie, who has been challenged by national coach Townsend to produce a big performance this weekend to push his case to retain the Scotland captaincy, will have to do so from the bench, after missing out on selection in the starting back-row to Luke Crosbie (who replaces Glen Young at blindside flanker), Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata.
The other changes to the starting XV from last week are at scrum-half where club co-captain Ben Vellacott gets a start ahead of Ali Price, and in the centre where James Lang returns at inside centre, with Matt Currie shifting to 13, and Mark Bennett missing out due to a knee injury.
Edinburgh need to win with a bonus point to guarantee their place in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup. If they win without a bonus point, draw or lose, they could still progress to the knock-out stage if Black Lion from Georgia fail to topple Clermont at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve named a strong and experienced 23 for an important game in our overall season,” said Everitt. “We know we need a positive result and we’ll be going all out to achieve that tomorrow night.
“We’re delighted to welcome Duhan, Luke and Jamie back to the squad after missing last week’s Gloucester match. They all possess game-changing skillsets, and their experience will be key in helping us deliver a match-winning performance
“Scarlets are strong at home and both sides know each other well from league competition. It will be an 80-minute battle where we’ll need to be on it from the very first whistle.”
Edinburgh Rugby (versus Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets in the Challenge Cup on Friday at 8pm): E Boffelli; C Dean, M Currie, J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, B Velaacott; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist co-©, L Crosbie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: E Ashman, B Venter, A Williams, G Young, J Ritchie, T Dodd, A Price, C Scott.
Unavailable: Mark Bennett (knee), Connor Boyle (neck), Wes Goosen (quad), Darcy Graham, (quad), Robin Hislop (knee), Jake Henry (knee), Jamie Hodgson (ankle), Ben Muncaster (foot), Harry Paterson (shoulder), Javan Sebastian (knee), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (hamstring).