Zebre v Edinburgh: key players released by Scotland for Parma clash

National squad has retained ten players but coach Mike Blair is still able to put out a strong 23

Sam Skinner and Luke Crosbie
Sam Skinner (left) and Luke Crosbie are among the Edinburgh players to be released by Scotland for the match against Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

TEN Edinburgh players are away on Scotland duty and another five are unavailable due to injury or illness, but Mike Blair has still been able to select a strong squad for tomorrow’s match away to Zebre.

Luke Crosbie, Nick Haining, Sam Skinner and Damien Hoyland have all been released from Gregor Townsend’s 40-man national squad to take part in the United Rugby Championship fixture in Parma. Crosbie captains the team from the back row alongside Haining and Bill Mata, who is making his 100th appearance. Skinner is at lock alongside another Scotland international, Jamie Hodgson, while Hoyland is on the bench.

In the back three, Emiliano Boffelli moves from full-back to the left wing to accommodate Henry Immelman, while summer signing Wes Goosen will make his debut on the right after recovering from a couple of niggling injuries. Jaco van der Walt is at stand-off and should have a steadying influence on what is sure to be a tricky encounter against the Italians. Another summer signing, loosehead prop Nick Auterac, is in line to make his debut off the bench.

“A number of players who’ve not been involved in recent weeks get their opportunity and they’re champing at the bit to make an impact,” Blair said after naming his team. “Zebre have been really impressive so far this season and are always a tough match-up at home, so we’ll need to be on it both mentally and physically from the first whistle.”

The ten retained by Scotland are: Mark Bennett, Dave Cherry, Grant Gilchrist, Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson.

Cammy Hutchison, James Lang, Stuart McInally, Marshall Sykes and Ben Vellacott are the five listed as unavailable.

Zebre have 11 players on their injury list. But, with Italy beginning their Autumn Nations Series campaign a week after Scotland, they have no issues with player release.

Edinburgh (v Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Saturday 1pm UK time): H Immelman; W Goosen, M Currie, C Dean, E Boffelli; J van der Walt, C Shiel; B Venter, A McBurney, L de Bruin, J Hodgson, S Skinner, N Haining, L Crosbie (captain), V Mata. Substitutes: P Harrison, N Auterac, A Williams, P Phillips, B Muncaster, H Pyrgos, C Savala, D Hoyland.

Zebre: L Pani; P Bruno, T Boni, D Mazza, J Trulla; T Eden, A Fusco; J Pitinari, M Manfredi, I Neculai, D Sisi (captain), L Krumov, L Andreani, M Pelser, T Fox-Matamua. Substitutes: L Bigi, L Rizzoli, M Hasa, A Zambonin, G Venditti, C Cook, G Prisciantelli, R Kriel.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales).

About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. Really excellent 1st 30 mins with the back row,McBurney Shie, Currie, Dean and VDW very impressive. The VDW kick to the corner for the 3rd try stupendous…..
    Haining appears to annoys every opponent with his physicality and feistiness.

    Ultimately a very acceptable result give who wasn’t there.

  2. The sru needs the money. The pro teams need money. Scotland game makes money. Edinburgh rotate the players regularly so everybody gets to develop and feel part of things. I am excited for this game and this team.

  3. Everything said re money is 100% correct but a full house at MF continues to secure SRUs financial security (not a bad thing given what has recently happened in England). Team-wise – Would have liked to have seen Savala get a start but I do like VDW.
    However I’d like to think that the above team would be good enough to win today.

  4. Whilst this is a decent team I think it is ludicrous that Edinburgh are starved of almost a whole team of players because Scotland have a game next week outside the official international window. The other clubs who don’t have internationals next week will not be starved of players. They also have a game next week away to Cardiff when even more players may be unavailable. These 2 games are crucial to Edinburghs season in terms of contending for a top 4 finish and if they lose one or both it could be critical. I had thought the URC schedule was meant to avoid club v country clashes but not so.

    • Don’t blame the URC – SRU following Welsh rugby in money grabbing. Next week a totally home based Scotland take on Australia because it’s outwith International window

    • Don’t blame URC. SRU following money grabbing Welsh rugby by playing fixtures outwith the international window. Next week a Scottish based 23 will face the Aussies.
      Warriors in South Africa will probably have same problems.
      We’ll done SRU for “stuffing” our professional teams.

      • Agree this weeks clash is self inflicted by the SRU. Nest week is across the board URC matches but Scotland suffers more due to having the bulk of our players from Edinburgh/Glasgow

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