Skinner starts as Scotland duo return for Bulls test
Newly recruited Scotland lock Sam Skinner makes his first start for Edinburgh Rugby as club co-captain Grant Gilchrist (lock) and British and Irish Lion Hamish Watson (back-row) return in tomorrow afternoon’s BKT United Rugby Championship Round 2 match against Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium (Saturday 24 September, kick-off 1.30pm BST / 2.30pm local) – live on Premier Sports 2.
Skinner and Gilchrist make their first start together at club level as Watson is named among the replacements for Edinburgh’s first-ever fixture in Pretoria.
The capital side make two further changes to the pack as former Bull, Pierre Schoeman (loosehead) – returning to Loftus Versfeld for the first time since departing for Edinburgh in 2018 – and WP Nel (tighthead) get the nod up front.
In the backline, Blair Kinghorn (stand-off), Henry Pyrgos (scrum-half) and James Lang (centre) all start after featuring from the bench in last weekend’s bonus-point win over Dragons RFC at DAM Health Stadium.
Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Mike Blair, said: “It’s been a good week of training as we once again acclimatise to conditions in South Africa – the squad are raring to go.
“We’ve talked about the brilliant challenge of facing teams like Bulls in their own backyard and that’s added another layer of motivation for us as a team. These are the games you want to be playing in, especially in one of world rugby’s great stadiums like Loftus.
“As we saw last season, Bulls are a hugely physical side with try-scoring threats across the park. We know we’re going to have be at our best this weekend, but we’re thrilled with the opportunity to once again represent Edinburgh and our supporters back home.”
An unchanged back-three sees Henry Immelman continue at full-back alongside wingers Damien Hoyland and Darcy Graham, with the latter grabbing a brace of tries in a Player of the Match performance against Dragons RFC.
Scotland duo Lang and Mark Bennett (outside centre) link up in the capital midfield as Pyrgos and Kinghorn form a revamped half-back pairing.
In the pack, hooker Dave Cherry retains his place at hooker as Fijian international Viliame Mata (number 8) anchors an unchanged back-row which sees Luke Crosbie (openside flanker) and Jamie Ritchie (blindside flanker) once again combine for the early kick-off in Pretoria.
Elsewhere, tighthead prop Luan de Bruin is once again fit and selected among the replacements after making his injury comeback for FOSROC Super6 side Southern Knights last weekend.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the BKT United Rugby Championship
Saturday 24 September (kick-off 1.30pm BST/ 2.30pm local) – live on Premier Sports 2.
15. Henry Immelman (17)
14. Darcy Graham (51)
13. Mark Bennett (72)
12. James Lang (20)
11. Damien Hoyland (95)
10. Blair Kinghorn (120) VICE-CAPTAIN
9. Henry Pyrgos (71)
1. Pierre Schoeman (84)
2. Dave Cherry (58)
3. WP Nel (172)
4. Sam Skinner (1)
5. Grant Gilchrist (176) CAPTAIN
6. Jamie Ritchie (86) CAPTAIN
7. Luke Crosbie (70)
8. Viliame Mata (96)
16. Stuart McInally (166)
17. Boan Venter (26)
18. Luan de Bruin (8)
19. Marshall Sykes (24)
20. Hamish Watson (131)
21. Ben Vellacott (22)
22. Jaco van der Walt (89)
23. Chris Dean (122)
Unavailable: Wes Goosen