McInally and Boffelli return as Scotland trio start ‘cup final’ encounter
Edinburgh Rugby welcome the return of Stuart McInally and Emiliano Boffelli from injury as Scotland trio Sam Skinner, Hamish Watson and Luke Crosbie are all released to start against Leinster at DAM Health Stadium tomorrow night (Saturday 4 March, kick-off 5.05pm) – live on Viaplay.
McInally (concussion) has been cleared for action having progressed through the graduated return to play protocol, with Boffelli is now fit and poised to make his first appearance since December (against Glasgow Warriors).
Head Coach Mike Blair makes three further changes to the side that faced Scarlets a fortnight ago. Ben Vellacott gets the nod at scrum-half as Lee-Roy Atalifo (tighthead) and Marshall Sykes (lock) come into the pack.
Ahead of the clash in the capital, Blair said: “We’re delighted to welcome both Stuart [McInally] and Emiliano [Boffelli] back from injury. They have a huge amount of international experience, bringing added quality to the starting XV.
“We know our overall performance against Scarlets wasn’t good enough and we’re expecting a reaction across the board tomorrow night. Playing in front of our home support will give us a massive boost and we want to put in an 80-minute performance that gets our fans excited and off their feet from the first whistle.
“Leinster are unbeaten in the league for a reason and they’re a side with a lot of power and accuracy. We’ll need to be switched on from the get-go.
“This game is huge for the club. It’s a cup final in terms of our chances of making the top eight. We need our home support and every stand jumping come kick-off tomorrow evening.”
In the back-three, Boffelli’s return at full-back sees Damien Hoyland move to the wing alongside Wes Goosen.
Centre duo Mark Bennett – who this week penned a new two-year deal – and James Lang link up in midfield with Charlie Savala paired with Vellacott at half-back.
Club centurion McInally packs down alongside Atalifo – who starts in place of the injured Murray McCallum – and Boan Venter up front, as locks Skinner and Marshall Sykes combine in the second-row.
Crosbie – named captain – returns at blindside flanker as Watson (openside flanker) and Viliama Mata (number 8) complete the pack.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Leinster at DAM Health Stadium in the BKT United Rugby Championship
Saturday 4 March (kick-off 5.05pm) – live on Viaplay
15. Emiliano Boffelli (26)
14. Damien Hoyland (102)
13. Mark Bennett (83)
12. James Lang (34)
11. Wes Goosen (9)
10. Charlie Savala (27)
9. Ben Vellacott (34)
1. Boan Venter (41)
2. Stuart McInally (172)
3. Lee-Roy Atalifo (31)
4. Marshall Sykes (37)
5. Sam Skinner (9)
6. Luke Crosbie (82) CAPTAIN
7. Hamish Watson (136)
8. Viliame Mata (111)
16. Dave Cherry (66)
17. Jamie Jack (2)
18. Elliot Millar-Mills (3)
19. Jamie Hodgson (51)
20. Nick Haining (35)
21. Charlie Shiel (54)
22. Jaco van der Walt (95)
23. Chris Dean (132)
Unavailable: Nick Auterac, Luan de Bruin, Matt Currie, Darcy Graham, Henry Immelman, Murray McCallum, Ben Muncaster, Cammy Scott, Angus Williams.
Scotland camp: Blair Kinghorn, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman, Duhan van der Merwe.