Stars return for Edinburgh in European clash

Stars return for Edinburgh in European clash

British & Irish Lions Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson return as two of seven changes made to Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV for tomorrow night’s EPCR Challenge Cup opener against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel-Michelin (Friday 8 December, kick-off 8pm GMT/9pm local) – live on Viaplay.

Winger Van der Merwe was required to complete the graduated return to play protocol, having suffered a concussion in training last week, and starts in a backline that features four changes from Saturday’s away victory at Ulster in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Club centurion Watson starts at openside flanker – in place of the rested Jamie Ritchie – having made his return from a facial injury at Kingspan Stadium last weekend.

With Ben Healy rested, 22-year-old stand-off Cammy Scott gets his first taste of European action and makes his second start of the campaign.

A revamped midfield pairing sees experienced duo Chris Dean and Mark Bennett start in the centres, taking the place of James Lang and Matt Currie – the latter named among the replacements.

Up front, Javan Sebastian (tighthead) and Robin Hislop (loosehead) both get the nod in the front-row after coming off the bench to help seal the win in Belfast last weekend.

On his team selection, Senior Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’ve taken a lot of confidence from Saturday’s win in Belfast where I thought we competed excellently and showed resilience in all facets of the game. It’s now about maintaining that momentum as we start our European campaign in France.

“We’ve made six changes to the starting line-up and it’s exciting to see guys get their opportunity in a big European match, under the lights in one of French rugby’s great arenas.

“Cammy [Scott] is a young stand-off who has grown up supporting the club. Wearing the number 10 jersey for Edinburgh will mean a huge amount to him. We’ve name two guys outside him with a lot of experience in Chris Dean and Mark Bennett, while we’re excited to bring back Duhan [van der Merwe] who has the ability to be a match-winner on any given night.”

He added: “Clermont are a quality outfit with a lot of size and power, as you’d expect from all French Top 14 sides. We know the challenge we face but it’s one we’re excited to face head on.”

Tim Swiel – a debutant in the win over Ulster – continues at full-back as Van der Merwe and Harry Paterson line-up on opposite wings. Paterson makes his second consecutive start having impressed in his return from injury last weekend.

With Bennett named in midfield alongside Dean, the Olympic silver medallist returns to Clermont for the first time since spending a season at Stade Marcel-Michelin as an academy player in 2011/12.

Experienced captain Ben Vellacott starts again at scrum-half where he partners Scott at half-back.

Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman retains his place up front alongside Hislop and Sebastian as locks Marshall Sykes and Jamie Hodgson continue in the second-row.

An all-international back-row sees Viliame Mata named at number 8 alongside impressive flankers Luke Crosbie and Watson.

Edinburgh Rugby team to face ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel-Michelin in the EPCR Challenge Cup
Friday 8 December (kick-off 8pm GMT/9pm local) – live on Viaplay

15. Tim Swiel (1)

14. Harry Paterson (5)
13. Mark Bennett (93)
12. Chris Dean (140)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (79)

10. Cammy Scott (4)
9. Ben Vellacott CAPTAIN (44)

1. Robin Hislop (22)
2. Ewan Ashman (6)
3. Javan Sebastian (6)
4. Marshall Sykes (48)
5. Jamie Hodgson (55)
6. Luke Crosbie (88)
7. Hamish Watson (143)
8. Viliame Mata (121)


16. Adam McBurney (22)
17. Boan Venter (52)
18. Angus Williams (23)
19. Glen Young (29)
20. Connor Boyle (38)
21. Charlie Shiel (59)
22. Matt Currie (23)
23. Wes Goosen (17)

Unavailable: Emiliano Boffelli (toe), Luan de Bruin (back), Dave Cherry (ankle), Darcy Graham (hip), Paddy Harrison (concussion), Jake Henry (knee), Cam Neild (knee), Ali Price (leg), Sam Skinner (knee), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (hamstring).

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