Edinburgh welcome the return of three Scotland internationalists for Friday's clash with Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield.
Edinburgh welcome the return of three Scotland internationalists for Friday's clash with Cardiff Blues.
Back-row David Denton and prop Geoff Cross, on the field replacements in Scotland's 34-10 win over Italy, return from the international camp to start the match, while centre Nick De Luca has recovered from the fractured eye socket that has kept him sidelined for the past three months.
Edinburgh have already enjoyed an away reverse against their capital counterparts, courtesy of a last minute drop-goal from captain Greig Laidlaw, making tomorrow's match the first chance for a home and away double this season.
“Our position in the league [ninth] puts a finer point on the need for us to perform well and win this match at home,” said Edinburgh boss Michael Bradley.
“We have some key players back with us from injury and from the Scotland camp, which will undoubtedly help our efforts to relive the success we enjoyed over Cardiff at the beginning of the season.
“They [Cardiff] are currently six points and two places above us in the RaboDirect PRO12, so it's plain to see the value of a home win as we look to climb the table in the end-of-season run in.”
Despite the returning trio, the club are without four notable absentees, with Matt Scott, Ross Ford and round two try-scorer and match winners, Tim Visser and Laidlaw, who remain in the international camp.
Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues make one change in the backs with Richard Smith coming in at centre for Dafydd Hewitt, who suffered a broken checkbone in last Friday's match against Leinster.
The back-row sees Robin Copeland start at number eight and joined by Thomas Young at openside and Josh Navidi, who returns from the Wales squad, at blindside.
Michael Paterson moves to the second-row and packs down with James Down. Fau Filise moves to the loose head, with Marc Breeze starting at hooker and Scott Andrews, who also returns from the Wales squad, also starting in the front-row.
“The Six Nations is obviously a big part of the rugby season so you know that you will have these periods when you will be without your international players,” said boss Phil Davies.
“You know they are coming so you have to plan for them.
“We've made a lot of progress as a squad and this is an opportunity for us up in Scotland. There is a group of men who want to win for the region.
“Last weekend we played some good rugby but lost ourselves for 15 minutes, which was disappointing, and cost us. We're not gaining consistency in performances and therefore not getting consistent results.
“We've been developing our game this week and putting things in place we'd like to see on Friday night. If we perform well we can get the win.
“We have three league matches in February where we want to get wins and climb the league then a break where we can work on conditioning and so on.”
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Stuart McInally, 6 David Denton, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Steven Lawrie (c), 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Tom Brown
Cardiff Blues: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Gavin Evans (c), 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Andries Pretorius, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Chris Czekaj.
Date: Friday, 15 February
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)