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Bill Mata to make first start in nine months for Edinburgh

By PA
(Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Fijian forward Bill Mata will make his first start in nine months when Edinburgh open their BKT United Rugby Championship season against the Dragons in the Scottish capital on Saturday night.

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The number eight returned from a knee injury off the bench during last weekend’s pre-season friendly defeat by Benetton in Treviso.

Summer signing Sam Skinner could make his debut as a replacement. The former Exeter lock is named on an experienced bench which features a further seven Scotland internationals who have made a combined 652 appearances for Edinburgh.

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Bernard Foley gives his take on what exactly happened in Australia vs New Zealand

Head Coach Mike Blair said: “The squad have all put in the hard yards throughout pre-season, gearing up for round one of the competition, and now it’s time to represent the city and show what it means to play for this great club.

“We know Dragons will travel north with confidence. They’ve made some savvy signings over the summer and have restructured their coaching team – they’ll feel rejuvenated as a squad, so we need be focussed and ready to take them on from the first whistle.

“The season opener is always exciting for everyone – players, staff, sponsors and supporters. It’s a chance to get your journey off to the best possible start, and that’s what we intend to do on Saturday night.”

Wes Goosen, Jake Henry and Mesu Kunavula are the only players who are not available for Blair.

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EDINBURGH TEAM:
15. Henry Immelman
14. Darcy Graham
13. Mark Bennett
12. Chris Dean
11. Damien Hoyland
10. Charlie Savala
9. Ben Vellacott
1. Boan Venter
2. Dave Cherry
3. Angus Williams
4. Marshall Sykes
5. Glen Young
6. Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN
7. Luke Crosbie
8. Viliame Mata

REPLACEMENTS:
16. Stuart McInally
17. Pierre Schoeman
18. WP Nel
19. Sam Skinner
20. Nick Haining
21. Henry Pyrgos
22. Blair Kinghorn
23. James Lang

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