Jack Blain makes his first home start for the club as Edinburgh Rugby face Connacht at BT Murrayfield in Round 3 of the Guinness PRO14 this Sunday (25 October). Blain, a former Scotland U20 star, is named at fullback as Edinburgh Rugby make 12 changes for the Conference B clash.
A standout for Scotland U18, the sizable winger (6’3, 95kg) provided the cutting edge to Scotland’s attack at the 2018 Under 18 Six Nations Festival in Wales.
Blain scored three tries in the tournament, including a brace against England. The wing made his full debut for the club in the Guinness PRO14 match against Benetton in March 2019.
With 17 players unavailable due to injury or international selection, the capital side give an opportunity to several up-and-coming players, with Blain, lock Andrew Davidson and back-row duo Ally Miller and Mesulame Kunavula all named in the starting XV.
The squad selection also sees Scotland internationals Lewis Carmichael and Henry Pyrgos return from injury with both players set to feature for the first time since rugby resumed in August.
Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We’ve obviously got quite a few players unavailable due to injury or international selection, but we’re excited for the challenge of taking on a very good Connacht outfit.
“We’ve had a bit of time to take stock after the opening two rounds and we’ve had a good, solid week of preparation in the build-up to tomorrow night’s fixture.
“We’re proud of our home record, we like playing at BT Murrayfield and the squad we’ve selected will be desperate to impress and make sure we come away with a positive result.”
A new-look back-three sees Blain – who makes his first appearance since his debut in March 2019 – line-up alongside wingers Jamie Farndale and Eroni Sau.
Centre Chris Dean is once again fit and paired with James Johnstone in midfield as half-back duo Nic Groom – who skippers the side – and Jaco van der Walt both keep their place in the team following the defeat to Munster two weeks ago.
A refreshed front-row sees hooker Mike Willemse pack down alongside props Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel – with the latter released from Scotland camp for the encounter.
Lock Carmichael – who makes his first start since facing Cardiff Blues in February – is paired with Davidson in the second-row, while former Fiji 7s star Kunavula anchors a revamped back-row that sees flankers Magnus Bradbury and Miller complete the pack.
Elsewhere, back-row Connor Boyle is named among the replacements and if called upon the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy graduate will make his debut for the club.
15. Jack Blain (1)
14. Eroni Sau (11)
13. James Johnstone (51)
12. Chris Dean (93)
11. Jamie Farndale (8)
10. Jaco van der Walt (60)
9. Nic Groom (14) CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (46)
2. Mike Willemse (23)
3. WP Nel (144)
4. Lewis Carmichael (45)
5. Andrew Davidson (5)
6. Magnus Bradbury (79)
7. Ally Miller (14)
8. Mesu Kunavula (3)
Replacements: 16. David Cherry (23) 17. Jamie Bhatti (13) 18. Murray McCallum (56) 19. Jamie Hodgson (8) 20. Connor Boyle * 21. Henry Pyrgos (35) 22. Nathan Chamberlain (3) 23. George Taylor (25)
Unavailable due to injury: Lee Roy Atalifo, Matt Gordon, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata, Grant Gilchrist, Damien Hoyland, Fraser McKenzie
Unavailable due to international selection: Simon Berghan, Nick Haining, Stuart McInally, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe
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