Edinburgh hand debut to former Scotland Sevens winger as WP Nel gets ideal setting for 200th game

Chance for 23-year-old to shine as trio of Scotland internationals miss Stormers showdown
Jake Henry will make his professional debut for Edinburgh against Stormers in Cape Town. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)Jake Henry will make his professional debut for Edinburgh against Stormers in Cape Town. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Jake Henry will make his professional debut for Edinburgh against Stormers in Cape Town. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Sean Everitt believes that Cape Town will be the ideal setting for WP Nel to make his 200th appearance for Edinburgh, given that the Scotland veteran started his career in the South African city.

The capital club's head coach is sure that his team would in any case be up for the fight against the Stormers, who can overtake them in the United Rugby Championship table with a win, but he suggested they might well be playing with additional fervour caused by the desire to mark Nel’s celebratory occasion with a victory.

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“We’re delighted to see WP hit 200 appearances for the club,” Everitt said yesterday. “He’s an Edinburgh legend and it’ll be an extremely proud moment for him and his family when he takes to the pitch.

“It’s great that WP is able to get his 200th game here in Cape Town. He is from a little town close to Cape Town, so it’s going to be quite special for his family and friends. This team doesn’t need any added motivation, but I’ve got no doubt they’ll be playing with a bit of extra fire to make it a special day for WP.”

The day will also be special for the former Scotland Sevens winger Jake Henry, who is at last making his professional debut at 23 after a couple of seasons blighted by injury. “It’s a great opportunity for Jake Henry to put his hand up, for Edinburgh Rugby as well as for Scotland Rugby,” Everitt added.

“He’s been through some adversity with all the injuries that he’s had to deal with over the last couple of years, so I’m just so proud that he’s managed to work his way back and earn a spot in the team this weekend.”

Henry gets his chance as three Scotland internationals are out – Duhan van der Merwe is rested while Harry Paterson and Darcy Graham remain on the injury list. Van der Merwe is due back against the Sharks next week, Paterson should be back from a foot injury next month, and Graham should be available by the play-offs.

The Stormers squad includes eight Springboks, five in the starting line-up. Damien Willemse is at full-back and Mannie Libbok wears 10, while in the pack tighthead Frans Malherbe is joined by lock Salmaan Moerat, who captains the team, and No 8 Evan Roos. The three South African internationals on the bench are scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, loosehead Lizo Gqoboka and hooker Joseph Dweba.

Stormers (v Edinburgh at DHL Stadium, today [Sat] 3.05pm British time): D Willemse; S Hartzenberg, W Simelane, D du Plessis, L Zas; M Libbok, P de Wet; B Harris, A Venter, F Malherbe, S Moerat (captain), R van Heerden, N Xaba, B Dixon, E Roos. Replacements: J Dweba, L Gqoboka, N Fouche, C Evans, H Dayimani, H Jantjies, J Matthee, B Loader.

Edinburgh: E Boffelli; W Goosen, M Bennett, M Currie, J Henry; B Healy, B Vellacott (captain); B Venter, D Cherry, W Nel, J Hodgson, S Skinner, B Muncaster, H Watson, V Mata. Replacements: P Harrison, L de Bruin, J Sebastian, M Sykes, T Dodd, C Shiel, C Scott, C Dean.

Referee: A Jones (Wales).

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