All change for return to European action

With a number of players being rested, others are being given an opportunity against London Irish in the European Challenge Cup tomorrow (12 December, Madejski Stadium, k/o 3pm).

Teenage back row Jamie Ritchie and outside centre Michael Allen will make their first starts for the club as a number of players are rested, some move up from the bench and others return from injury.

In the backs, Dougie Fife moves from the wing to full back, Tom Brown returns from injury to take the 14 jersey and Andries Strauss comes in at inside centre to partner Allen.

Otulea Katoa, back from injury, will win his second cap for the club, on the left wing, while Greig Tonks also returns at stand-off and scrum half Nathan Fowles moves up from the bench to form the half-back pairing.

It’s all change in the front row with Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane and John Andress moving up to start at loosehead, hooker and tighthead respectively; Cochrane will also lead the team, for the first time, this week.

The lock combination of Anton Bresler and Alex Toolis is retained while Ritchie is on the blindside, Hamish Watson moves up to start at openside and last Friday’s try scorer, Cornell Du Preez, remains at no 8.

The bench also has a new look with Magnus Bradbury returning from Scotland 7s’ duty at the World Series season opener in Dubai last weekend to potentially win his second Edinburgh cap. Scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, hooker George Turner and winger Damien Hoyland return from injury to join him in the replacements.

Head coach Alan Solomons said: “With some of last weekend’s team being rested an opportunity is being given to a number of players.

“I’m delighted that Jamie will be making his first start for the club. It’s good to see that a number of his age grade peers, including Magnus Bradbury and Damien Hoyland, could also take the field this week.

“With Blair Kinghorn and Chris Dean also in the 23, it underlines the quality young players we have coming through the squad.

“It is also good to see Greig Tonks and Tom Brown return from injury.”

Edinburgh may have beaten London Irish in the quarter finals of last season’s European Challenge Cup but Solomons is under no illusions that their opponents will be looking to redress the balance.

“London Irish have had a difficult season in the Premiership and will be looking at this game to build confidence. Accordingly I believe that they will put out a full strength team and as such we will be subjected to a real test of the strength in depth in our squad.

“Tomorrow presents a huge challenge for all the players involved.”

Edinburgh Rugby currently sit in seventh place in the Guinness PRO12 and head their pool in the European Challenge Cup. The next home match, against London Irish at BT Murrayfield, is on Friday 18 December and kicks off at 7.30pm.

The first leg of this year's derby double-header against Glasgow Warriors, as Edinburgh seek to retain the 1872 Cup, takes place at BT Murrayfield on Sunday 27 December at 3.05pm. Tickets for all matches can be purchased online, over the phone (0131 346 5180) or from the Ticket Centre in Roseburn Street.

Players not considered due to injury: Grant Gilchrist (groin), Roddy Grant (knee), Nasi Manu (neck), Stuart McInally (neck), Fraser McKenzie (neck), Jade Te Rure (knee), Ben Toolis (arm).

Edinburgh Rugby team v London Irish, Saturday 12 December, Madejski Stadium, k/o 3pm

15 Dougie Fife

14 Tom Brown

13 Michael Allen

12 Andries Strauss

11 Otulea Katoa

10 Greig Tonks

9 Nathan Fowles


1 Rory Sutherland

2 Neil Cochrane (captain)

3 John Andress

4 Anton Bresler

5 Alex Toolis

6 Jamie Ritchie

7 Hamish Watson

8 Cornell Du Preez


16 George Turner

17 Grant Shiells

18 Simon Berghan

19 Magnus Bradbury

20 Chris Dean

21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne

22 Blair Kinghorn

23 Damien Hoyland