WP NEL will make his first appearance of the season for Edinburgh tomorrow, having shaken off the injury that has kept him out of action since the World Cup. The tighthead prop is one of nine changes made by Richard Cockerill to the starting line-up for the Challenge Cup rematch against Wasps, who were beaten 31-20 at Murrayfield last week.
Six of the changes are up front: Nel forms part of an all-new front row with loosehead Rory Sutherland and hooker Michael Willemse, Sam Thomson and Lewis Carmichael come in at lock, and Bill Mata returns at No 8.
In the back division, Damien Hoyland is at full-back, Jamie Farndale is on the left wing and Nic Groom is at scrum-half.
“We’ve made a number of changes to the starting line-up, but we travel to Wasps with a really strong squad, with plenty of experience in key positions,” Cockerill said. “WP comes back from injury to make his first appearance of the season, and his knowledge and understanding at tighthead will be vital. The same for Nic [Groom] at scrum-half who captains the side – his leadership is really important.
“We were obviously happy with large parts of our play in the win over Wasps last Friday night, but we know that they’ll be a different beast at home, and we’re ready for that. We’ve enjoyed a good week of training and we’re excited for the challenge of going on the road and facing an extremely talented Wasps outfit.”
Eight players are listed as unavailable: Eroni Sau, Cameron Fenton, John Barclay, Rory Darge, Luke Crosbie, Matt Scott, Chris Dean and Fraser McKenzie.
Edinburgh (v Wasps at the Ricoh Arena, Saturday 3pm): D Hoyland; D Graham, J Johnstone, G Taylor, J Farndale; S Hickey, N Groom (captain); R Sutherland, M Willemse, W Nel, S Thomson, L Carmichael, J Ritchie, H Watson, V Mata. Subs: S McInally, J Bhatti, S Berghan, B Toolis, M Bradbury, C Shiel, J van der Walt, M Bennett.
Wasps: M Minozzi; M Watson, M Fekitoa, J Gopperth, J Bassett; L Sopoaga, W Porter; B Harris, T Taylor, J Toomaga-Allen, T Cardall, C Matthews, A Johnson, T Young (captain), N Carr. Subs: G Oghre, T West, B Alo, T Vukasinovic, B Morris, S Wolstenholme, J Umaga, J de Jongh.