Edinburgh Rugby Give Youth A Chance

Hamish Watson gets his first start at open-sideEdinburgh Rugby will give youth a chance in tomorrow night's (Friday 22 February) RaboDirect PRO12 match against champions, Ospreys, in Swansea (kick-off 8pm) - live on BBC Wales/BBC iplayer.

In all there are nine players in the squad aged 23 or under, with a combination of injuries and international call-ups handing highly-rated flanker Hamish Watson (21) [pictured] his first start for the club after seven appearances off the bench.

Four of the nine youngsters will start the match: Harry Leonard (20) is promoted from the bench, while Dougie Fife (22), Stuart McInally (22) and Greig Tonks (23) retain their increasingly ever-present places at wing, back-row and full-back.

Head coach Michael Bradley, said: "A number of PRO12 clubs are tested to the limit at this time of the season, both with the attritional nature of the game in terms of injuries and with players selected to represent their country.

"Edinburgh Rugby has proven to be a fantastic breeding ground for talented young players, many of whom will represent Scotland this weekend, while the team picked to play Ospreys will showcase another group of gifted young players coming through who, with time and experience, will grow into hardened, quality individuals capable of delivering winning performances for this club."

Edinburgh Rugby v Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium
Friday 22 February (kick-of 8pm)

15 Greig Tonks

14 Dougie Fife

13 Nick De Luca
12 Ben Atiga
11 Lee Jones

10 Harry Leonard

9 Richie Rees

1 John Yapp

2 Steven Lawrie
3 Willem Nel
4 Perry Parker
5 Sean Cox CAPTAIN
6 Stuart McInally
7 Hamish Watson
8 Netani Talei

Substitutes

16 Andy Titterrell
17 Allan Jacobsen
18 Alex Allan
19 Robert McAlpine
20 Chris Leck
21 Piers Francis
22 Ben Cairns
23 Tom Brown

He continued: "We were bitterly disappointed to lose at home to Cardiff last weekend because we created enough opportunities to win the game.

'the fact that we created those chances and have already beaten Ospreys this season are positives we can take into this game, but we must be more clinical with our territory and possession if we're to steal a march on the champions in their own back yard."

Grant Gilchrist and Izak van der Westhuizen both sustained ankle injuries in last weekend's home loss to Cardiff Blues, so Perry Parker and captain Sean Cox form a new second-row, with 21-year-old Robert McAlpine joining as the lock replacement on the bench.

Tight-head prop Willem Nel replaces Geoff Cross who, like David Denton, has rejoined Scotland's RBS 6 Nations squad, with prop Alex Allan (20) taking the vacated place on the bench alongside fellow front-row replacements Andy Titterrell and Allan Jacobsen.

With Edinburgh Rugby's forward resources at their limit, the club complete the bench with four backs instead of the common-place three: Chris Leck, Piers Francis (22), Ben Cairns and Tom Brown (22).

The rest of the squad from last weekend is unchanged, with the notable inclusion of Fiji captain Netani Talei set to make his 50th appearance for the club.

Players absent through injury
: Jamie Farndale (leg), Roddy Grant (wrist), James King (head), Lewis Niven (bicep), Ross Rennie (shoulder), Steven Turnbull (knee), George Turner (hip), Alun Walker (hamstring), Izak van der Westhuizen (ankle)

Players aged 23 or under: Alex Allan (20), Tom Brown (22), Dougie Fife (22), Piers Francis (22), Harry Leonard (20), Robert McAlpine (21), Stuart McInally (22), Greig Tonks (23), Hamish Watson (21)

Players drafted to the RBS Premiership this weekend: Sep Visser (Boroughmuir), Gregor Hunter (Currie), James King (Gala), Alex Black (Edinburgh Accies), Michael Penn (Heriots)