Scotland international centre Mark Bennett will make his eagerly anticipated debut against Southern Kings at Myreside tomorrow night (Friday 5 January, kick-off 7.35pm).
Head coach Richard Cockerill has made five changes to the side that faced Glasgow Warriors in last weekend’s 1872 Cup fixture at Scotstoun.
Dougie Fife is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three. The winger – who touched down against Southern Kings in last month’s fixture in Port Elizabeth – joins Duhan van der Merwe on the wing, whilst Blair Kinghorn keeps his place at full back.
In the midfield, 20-times capped Scotland international centre Mark Bennett makes his first appearance for the club since joining in the summer, having fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in last year’s Six Nations. The 24-year-old is joined in the centre by the experienced Phil Burleigh.
In the front row, prop Jordan Lay gets the nod at loosehead and packs down alongside Murray McCallum and hooker Stuart McInally, who once again captains the side.
The dynamic pairing of Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist form the second row, whilst Magnus Bradbury returns to the starting XV to link up with Hamish Watson and Cornell du Preez in the back row.
On his selection, Cockerill said: “Mark has worked incredibly hard to return from injury, so we’re delighted that he’s able to make his first start for the club in front of our supporters at Myreside.
“Southern Kings are a dangerous side in attack, and they will be well-rested having had a few week’s break over the festive period. It’ll be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to getting back to Myreside and putting in a good performance, and one that keeps us looking up the table.”
Edinburgh team to face Southern Kings in the Guinness PRO14 at Myreside on Friday 5 January (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on BBC Alba
15. Blair Kinghorn (57)
14. Dougie Fife (95)
13. Mark Bennett *
12. Phil Burleigh (68)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (5)
10. Jaco van der Walt (5)
9. Nathan Fowles (47)
1. Jordan Lay (1)
2. Stuart McInally (113) Captain
3. Murray McCallum (30)
4. Ben Toolis (80)
5. Grant Gilchrist (111)
6. Magnus Bradbury (40)
7. Hamish Watson (79)
8. Cornell du Preez (94)
Replacements: 16. Cameron Fenton (4) 17. Elliot Millar-Mills (1) 18. Matt Shields (4) 19. Fraser McKenzie (92) 20. Viliame Mata (25) 21. Sean Kennedy (57) 22. Chris Dean (56) 23. Damien Hoyland (55)
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