HAMISH WATSON and Dave Cherry take their places as expected in the Edinburgh team to play Scarlets tomorrow after being released by Scotland. But Sam Skinner, who had been allowed to train with Mike Blair’s squad this week along with Watson and Cherry, has been retained by the national team.
Blair has nonetheless been able to name a pack which includes seven internationals, while behind the scrum Damien Hoyland returns on the wing after an injury lay-off. Chris Dean is also back from injury and takes his place on the bench.
In all, eight players including Skinner are unavailable on national duty, while another ten are listed as unavailable, mainly through injury.
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“We’ve had a really focussed week of training and the guys are excited to return to league action,” head coach Blair said. “That short break during the Six Nations window has given us the opportunity to take stock and reflect on what we’re doing well and what we can do better as a team.
“The internationals have come back into training this week and brought a brilliant buzz. We’ve got a great dynamic across the squad, and we feel energised as a group heading into tomorrow night’s match at Parc y Scarlets.
“Scarlets have been going really well of late and are always strong at home. However, we’ve had some terrific results on the road so far this season – with big URC wins at Cardiff and Zebre – which gives us plenty of confidence heading into a fixture which is hugely important for us as a club.”
Edinburgh have only five games still to play in the URC regular season and are two points behind eighth-placed Sharks, who have a game in hand. Defeat tomorrow would not completely kill off their hopes of getting back into the play-off places, but it would make an already uphill battle all the tougher.
Scarlets have Scotland squad member Javan Sebastian on the bench, and are without five players because of Wales duty. No 8 Sione Kalamafoni captains them for the first time, taking over from the injured Aaron Shingler.
Edinburgh (v Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets, Saturday 5.15pm): W Goosen; D Hoyland, M Bennett, J Lang, J Blain; C Savala, C Shiel; B Venter, D Cherry (captain), M McCallum, G Young, J Hodgson, N Haining, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: A McBurney, J Jack, L Atalifo, M Sykes, C Boyle, B Vellacott, J van der Walt, C Dean.
Unavailable: Nick Auterac, Emiliano Boffelli, Luan de Bruin, Matt Currie, Darcy Graham, Henry Immelman, Stuart McInally, Ben Muncaster, Harry Paterson, Angus Williams.
Scotland camp: Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe.
Scarlets: J McNicholl; S Evans, J Roberts, I Nicholas, R Conbeer; S Costelow, G Davies; K Mathias, S Evans, S Wainwright, M Jones, S Lousi, V Fifita, D Davis, S Kalamafoni (captain). Substitutes: T Davies, S Thomas, J Sebastian, B Williams, C Tuipulotu, D Blacker, D Jones, E James.
Unavailable because of injury: Daf Hughes, Aaron Shingler, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Ryan Elias, Josh Macleod, Tom Rogers, Corey Baldwin, Alex Jeffries, Johnny Williams, Callum Williams, Iestyn Rees, Samson Lee.
Unavailable because of international duty: Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Rhys Patchell, Leigh Halfpenny, Kieran Hardy.