Edinburgh Rugby welcome the return of top-try scorer Tim Visser into the starting lineup for tomorrow’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile (kick-off 2.30pm UK time) – live on BBC ALBA.
Edinburgh Rugby team v Zebre
Stadio XXV Aprile
Saturday 19 April, kick-off 2.30pm UK time – live on BBC ALBA.
The Scotland internationalist announced his return – and 100th appearance for the club – with a five-minute cameo against Cardiff Blues last weekend. Tomorrow will be his first start since breaking his leg in October.
Unfortunately for Solomons, as one player comes in, another two are ruled out, with front-line locks Grant Gilchrist (ankle) and Izak van der Westhuizen (head knock) unavailable through injury.
Their places in the boiler house are take by Scotland A internationalist Ollie Atkins and academy second-row Ben Toolis, while the opportunity of a first appearance has also been offered to twin brother and fellow development player Alex Toolis, who has been named on the bench.
Other changes in the pack see Roddy Grant and Wicus Blaauw come in for the rotated and rested Cornell Du Preez and Alasdair Dickinson, who are selected on the bench, while Solomons has handed the chance to orchestrate the backline to a new half-back partnership of Sean Kennedy and Carl Bezuidenhout.
Speaking on selection, Solomons said: “Tim Visser and Matt Scott have played very little for us and that’s been our loss.
Tim is a very good finisher and it’s excellent to have him in the side, though we shouldn’t expect too much from him as this is really his first proper outing.
“Unfortunately our top two locks, Grant Gilchrist and Izak van der Westhuizen, are both out, so it’s an opportunity for Ollie [Atkins] to play a leading role and for young Ben Toolis to come out of our academy and play for us.
“He [Toolis] is still a young guy who has a lot to learn but he is an outstanding athlete with a lot of ability and potential.
“If properly looked after, and providing he shows the necessary application, he could have a very good career.
“Sean [Kennedy] and Carl [Bezuidenhout] have not played much in the last three games and I think it’s the right time to make a rotation and see what they can do, it’s a good opportunity for both of them.
“We previously did the rotation with Roddy Grant but, because we retained the side following the win in Newport, we have brought him back in to start this weekend, while Cornell [Du Preez] gets a bit of a rest on the bench.
“I think, if you take his southern hemisphere season and this season together, he has played in excess of 45 games so the bench is the appropriate place for him this time out.”
Tomorrow's match in Italy is viewed as a ‘must win’ for both sides if they are to keep the pressure on their European qualification rivals, with Zebre needing to overtake Treviso to secure the nation's automatic spot, while Edinburgh Rugby are 10-points behind sixth-placed Scarlets with a game in hand.
Solomons added: “We know this is going to be a tough fixture for us.
“They are a side not to be underestimated, and were probably a little bit unlucky to lose against the Scarlets in Wales last weekend.
They will certainly be stronger at home and go into the match with a lot to play for, because who ever finishes higher between them and Treviso will go into the European Rugby Champions Cup.
“They will be well motivated and will present us with a massive challenge.”
Saturday 19 April – Zebre v Edinburgh Rugby, Stadio XXV Aprile (kick-off 2.30pm UK time) - BBC ALBA
Saturday 26 April – Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby, Scotstoun Stadium (kick-off 7.05pm)
Tickets Saturday 3 May – Edinburgh Rugby v Munster Rugby, Meggetland (kick-off 5pm) - BBC ALBA
Saturday 10 May – Leinster Rugby v Edinburgh Rugby, RDS (kick-off 6.30pm)