Champions Cup: England’s Freddie Steward starts for Leicester with Duhan van der Merwe among the Scotland stars to return for Edinburgh

Adam Kyriacou

The Champions Cup round-of-16 action kicks off on Friday with Leicester Tigers facing Edinburgh in an intriguing game at Welford Road.

Richard Wigglesworth has named his Leicester matchday squad to play the Scottish side with Julián Montoya captaining the team.

Wigglesworth has made six changes to his starting side from last weekend’s Premiership win against Bristol, which includes a return to action for Guy Porter who missed the bonus-point victory over the Bears.

The only other changes to the starting backline are the inclusions of Freddie Steward and Jack van Poortvliet, who came off the bench in last week’s league outing, at full-back and scrum-half.

In the pack, James Cronin, Dan Cole and Tommy Reffell – who all came off the bench against Bristol – are named to start.

The trio replace Tom West, Joe Heyes and Jasper Wiese, who are named on the bench.

Meanwhile, also included among the replacements, is Dan Kelly who is in line for his return from injury after being sidelined for 10 weeks and Sam Wolstenholme who, if used, will make his Leicester debut.

Scotland quartet back for Edinburgh

Meanwhile, prop Pierre Schoeman, back-row duo Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson, and wing Duhan van der Merwe all return to the Edinburgh starting line-up as head coach Mike Blair names five changes to the XV that faced Connacht last weekend.

WP Nel – who featured from the bench in Galway – starts at tighthead prop in the only other alteration as Edinburgh make a first visit to Welford Road since the 2007/08 campaign.

Ahead of the fixture, Blair, said: “Heineken Champions Cup knockout rugby, Friday night lights and a packed out Welford Road – these are the occasions you truly relish as a player and it’s a privilege to lead this club into our biggest game of the season.”

An electric back-thee sees Scotland duo Darcy Graham and Van der Merwe paired on opposite wings as Argentine international Emiliano Boffelli continues at full-back.

Centres James Lang and Mark Bennett once again link-up in midfield and fly-half Blair Kinghorn combines with experienced scrum-half Henry Pyrgos at half-back.

Up front, hooker Stuart McInally packs down alongside Schoeman and Nel as locks Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner complete an all-Scotland tight-five.

Scotland captain Ritchie and British & Irish Lion Watson return to a back-row that is anchored by Fijian club centurion Viliame Mata.

The teams

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Olly Cracknell, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Cameron Henderson, 4 George Martin, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya (c), 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Tom West, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Dan Kelly

Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (cc), 5 Grant Gilchrist (cc), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Cammy Hutchison, 23 Damien Hoyland

Date: Friday, March 31
Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistants Referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Jonathan Gasnier (France)
TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)

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