NEWS | Scotland stars return for Falcons encounter

Edinburgh Head Coach Richard Cockerill has welcomed back ten internationalists to his starting XV for tomorrow night’s pivotal Heineken Champions Cup encounter with Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield (Friday 7 December, kick-off 7.45pm).

Scotland stars Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Henry Pyrgos, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson all return to action following the Autumn Internationals, whilst No.8 Bill Mata also gets the nod after helping Fiji to a famous win over France two weeks ago.

As the capital side look to keep up their 100% home record this season so far, the team selection includes 13 changes from the side that faced Munster last weekend. South African duo Jaco van der Walt and Duhan van der Merwe – who grabbed a brace of tries at Irish Independent Park – are the only players to retain their positions in the starting line-up.

Ahead of the fixture, Cockerill, said: “We need to win. If you’re going to qualify out of the group, then you’re going to need to win three of the last four games – at least – to give yourself an opportunity.

“It’s been great to get everybody back in, for obvious reasons. They’re all fit and healthy, which is good news for the club.

“The lads who have been playing for Scotland should be confident. When we’ve got our combinations right we’re as good as any team, and I believe we can compete with any team in Europe on our day."

Kinghorn is named at fullback after starting on the wing in Scotland’s 14-9 win over Argentina two weeks ago whilst van der Merwe is selected on the flank alongside Graham – a try scorer in his last two games for the capital side.

A fresh centre pairing sees Chris Dean – an unused substitute in last weekend’s Guinness PRO14 loss to Munster - return to the starting XV alongside James Johnstone. Van der Walt keeps his place at stand-off and is partnered by 27-times capped Scotland international Pyrgos at scrum-half.

An all-action front-row sees captain McInally named at hooker alongside Pierre Schoeman – who makes his Heineken Champions Cup debut – and experienced tighthead, Nel. Gilchrist returns to partner Toolis in the second-row.

In the back-row, Mata – twice a try-scorer in his last run out against Scarlets – is selected at No.8 alongside returning Scotland back-row duo Ritchie and Watson.


Edinburgh team to face Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield in the Heineken Champions Cup on Friday 7 December, kick-off 7.45pm – live on BT Sport


15. Blair Kinghorn (71)


14. Darcy Graham (11)

13. James Johnstone (28)

12. Chris Dean (74)

11. Duhan van der Merwe (27)


10. Jaco van der Walt (24)

9. Henry Pyrgos (10)


1. Pierre Schoeman (7)

2. Stuart McInally (127) CAPTAIN

3. WP Nel (122)

4. Ben Toolis (97)

5. Grant Gilchrist (127)

6. Jamie Ritchie (56)

7. Hamish Watson (88)

8. Bill Mata (45)


Replacements: 16. David Cherry (6); 17. Allan Dell (51); 18. Simon Berghan (56); 19. Callum Hunter-Hill (6); 20. Luke Hamilton (10); 21. Nathan Fowles (62); 22. Simon Hickey (10); 23. Juan Pablo Socino (8)


Unavailable due to injury: Fraser McKenzie; Lewis Carmichael; John Barclay; Magnus Bradbury; Luke Crosbie; Matt Scott; Mark Bennett; Damien Hoyland