Edinburgh Rugby get major selection boost as Mark Bennett prepares for a first

Edinburgh Rugby have been given a boost ahead of Friday’s night’s URC clash with Munster after four returning Scotland players were named in the starting XV.
Mark Bennett captains Edinburgh against Munster for the first time.Mark Bennett captains Edinburgh against Munster for the first time.
Mark Bennett captains Edinburgh against Munster for the first time.

With the Six Nations taking a break this weekend after two rounds of fixtures, Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair has been able to select centre Mark Bennett, stand-off Blair Kinghorn, scrum-half Ben Vellacott and back row Nick Haining for the trip to Thomond Park.

Out of the quartet, only Kinghorn has sampled game-time for Scotland in the past two weeks, although Edinburgh’s front-row trio of Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally and WP Nel, plus lock Grant Gilchrist, back rowers Hamish Watson and Jamie Hodgson, No 8 Magnus Bradbury and winger Darcy Graham are being rested ahead of the France fixture a week on Saturday. Back row Jamie Ritchie is out for the season after injuring his hamstring in the Calcutta Cup win over England at the start of the month.

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Edinburgh were soundly beaten 26-7 by Leinster last weekend in the URC and now sit fourth in the standings, with Munster a place behind in fifth.

Blair said: “It’s great we’re able to welcome back some of our Scotland guys back into the squad. They bring added strength to a group that did some good things against Leinster last time out.

“While it’s great to have experienced internationalists back involved, this period is also brilliant for our younger players. They can show what they can do and see what it takes to win at this level. This is excellent for their development, while at the same time, we are able to put out a team that is capable of winning these games.

“We are expecting a real battle out there. Part of the disappointment of the Leinster game was around our physicality. There is no better place to go than Thomond Park to see if we have learned the lessons from the week before. We can’t wait for the challenge."

Bennett comes in to captain Edinburgh for the first time in his career, while Argentinians Emiliano Boffelli and Ramiro Moyano are selected on the wings.

In the pack, Ben Muncaster switches to No 8 to accommodate Haining’s return, while flanker Connor Boyle is retained after picking up a yellow card against Leinster.

Edinburgh team to face Munster on Friday, February 18, 7.35pm (live on Premier Sports): Henry Immelman; Ramiro Moyano, Mark Bennett, James Lang, Emiliano Boffelli; Blair Kinghorn, Ben Vellacott; Boan Venter, Adam McBurney, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Marshall Sykes, Glen Young, Nick Haining, Connor Boyle, Ben Muncaster. Replacements: Dave Cherry, Sam Grahamslaw, Jake Armstrong, Pierce Phillips, Mesulame Kunavula, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Chris Dean.

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