Ritchie returns for Bulls showdown
Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie returns from injury to start against Vodacom Bulls at Hive Stadium tomorrow night (Friday 17 November, kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Viaplay.
The back-row hasn’t played since being injured in the national side’s Rugby World Cup clash with Ireland at Stade de France, but returns to bolster Edinburgh’s back-row as one of three changes to the starting XV to face the league-leading South Africans.
Scotland internationalist WP Nel returns to action at tighthead prop after being rested last week, while co-captain Ben Vellacott gets the nod at scrum-half, after coming off the bench to make a try-scoring, BKT Player of the Match-winning performance in last week’s victory over Connacht at Hive Stadium.
Elsewhere, fellow scrum-half Ali Price is named among the replacements after joining on a season-long from Glasgow Warriors last week – the 66-times capped Scotland star is set for his Edinburgh Rugby debut if called upon from the bench.
Ahead of the fixture, Senior Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Jamie [Ritchie] back to the team. He is a top player and Scotland captain for a reason. He brings further physicality, experience and leadership to the pack as we face a strong Vodacom Bulls side.
“We were really happy with a lot of areas in last weekend’s Connacht victory. In particular, the resilience we displayed to claim back possession, retain the ball and set-up a game-winning drop goal was really pleasing. We’ll need to maintain those levels of focus against the Bulls if we are to come out on top after 80 minutes.”
He added: “The supporters will once again have a major role to play tomorrow night. The atmosphere created at Hive Stadium last weekend was nothing short of electric, the noise and chants boosted the team until the very last play – we hope they’ll be back for the first ‘Friday night lights’ match of the season.”
An unchanged back-three sees Blair Kinghorn continue at full-back with Wes Goosen and Duhan van der Merwe named on opposite wings.
Centres James Lang and Mark Bennett continue in midfield, and stand-off Ben Healy – fresh from his match-winning drop goal – links up with Vellacott at half-back.
Up front, hooker Ewan Ashman packs down alongside Scotland props Pierre Schoeman and Nel, while locks Glen Young and Grant Gilchrist complete the tight-five.
Openside flanker Connor Boyle – who recorded two turnovers in an all-action performance last time out – and Fijian internationalist Viliame Mata continue in the back-row.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Vodacom Bulls at Hive Stadium in the BKT United Rugby Championship
Friday 17 November (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Viaplay
15. Blair Kinghorn (137)
14. Wes Goosen (14)
13. Mark Bennett (92)
12. James Lang (40)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (77)
10. Ben Healy (4)
9. Ben Vellacott (41) CO-CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (100)
2. Ewan Ashman (3)
3. WP Nel (190)
4. Glen Young (26)
5. Grant Gilchrist (191) CO-CAPTAIN
6. Jamie Ritchie (98)
7. Connor Boyle (36)
8. Viliame Mata (118)
16. Dave Cherry (75)
17. Boan Venter (50)
18. Javan Sebastian (4)
19. Marshall Sykes (45)
20. Tom Dodd (3)
21. Ali Price*
22. Cammy Scott (4)
23. Chris Dean (139)
Unavailable: Emiliano Boffelli (toe), Luan de Bruin (back), Luke Crosbie (concussion), Matt Currie (thigh) Darcy Graham (hip), Jake Henry (knee), Mikey Jones (ankle), Cam Neild (knee), Sam Skinner (knee), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (hamstring), Hamish Watson (cheekbone).