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'This is where we want to be as a club'

By PA
Edinburgh senior coach Sean Everitt before the United Rugby Championship match between Ulster and Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Sean Everitt has challenged Edinburgh to recover from back-to-back defeats in South Africa by prolonging their European run with victory at home to Bayonne in Saturday’s Challenge Cup last-16 clash.

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The side from Scotland’s capital lost away to Stormers and Sharks in the United Rugby Championship over the previous couple of weekends.

However, they have an opportunity to take themselves into a European quarter-final if they can overcome a Bayonne side currently 10th in the French Top 14.

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“It’s great to be home after our two-week tour to South Africa and I know the squad are very excited to get back out in front of our home support in Edinburgh,” Everitt said.

“We’re getting into the business end of the campaign, so the games come thick and fast, but this is where we want to be as a club, competing for places in the final stages of Europe and the URC.

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“We know Bayonne are a top side with threats across the park. We’ve spoken about their pack and the physicality they bring, so we’ll need to be ready from the first whistle.

“However, we have lots of quality too and our team will be relishing the chance to put in a match-winning performance for our supporters.”

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Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist returns to co-captain Edinburgh as one of three changes made to the team that faced the Sharks in Durban last weekend. It will be the second-rower’s first outing since he played for the national team in their Six Nations defeat away to Ireland three weeks ago.

Mark Bennett returns at centre, while Luan de Bruin is handed his first start of the season at loosehead prop as Pierre Schoeman is out due to concussion and Boan Venter and Robin Hislop are also unavailable through injury.

Hamish Watson starts in an experienced back-row – alongside Jamie Ritchie and Viliame Mata – at the end of a week in which the Scotland flanker and 2021 British and Irish Lion signed a contract extension that will take him into a 14th season in the Scottish capital.

Scotland duo Luke Crosbie and Ali Price both return to the squad as replacements, with back-rower Crosbie in line to make his first appearance since picking up a shoulder injury for Scotland against Wales in the opening game of the Six Nations.

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Academy graduate Mikey Jones could make his professional debut after being named among an otherwise experienced bench.

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