Edinburgh Rugby without 14 Scotland players as Mike Blair makes changes for Cardiff trip

A depleted Edinburgh Rugby team will head to Wales this weekend looking to pick up a win over Cardiff in the URC, with a number of regular starters away on international duty with Scotland.
Luke Crosbie will captain Edinburgh Rugby against Cardiff on Sunday.Luke Crosbie will captain Edinburgh Rugby against Cardiff on Sunday.
Luke Crosbie will captain Edinburgh Rugby against Cardiff on Sunday.

Unlike Glasgow Warriors, who had four internationalists in Rufus McLean, Stafford McDowell, Kyle Steyn and Murphy Walker released back to them for Friday’s match at home to Benetton, Edinburgh have not been the beneficiary of any hand-me-backs. Head coach Mike Blair has made three changes to the team that won 38-19 at Zebre last weekend, with 14 senior players absent due to their involvement with Gregor Townsend’s national set-up.

Pierce Phillips (lock) and Ben Muncaster (blindside flanker) come into the starting pack in place of Scotland players Sam Skinner and Nick Haining, while Charlie Savala is the final change, at stand-off, with capped playmaker Jaco van der Walt taking a place on the bench. Luke Crosbie captains the team.

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Head coach Mike Blair said: “We’ve talked a lot this week about the non-negotiables in and around our game – physicality, staying mentally switched on and playing smart, heads-up rugby. We’ve taken a lot of confidence from back-to-back bonus-point wins, and we’ve been really pleased about how our game is developing so far, but we need to keep that level of focus for 80 minutes.

Cardiff have had an impressive start to the season and are in a rich vein of form having won their last three. Last weekend’s victory against DHL Stormers showed just how dangerous they are at home. We know we’ll have to at our best from the first whistle to last in Cardiff but the squad are really excited for the challenge ahead and the opportunity to once again represent the club and city.”

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young said: “We’re looking forward to another big challenge on Sunday against Edinburgh to finish this opening block of fixtures. We have been pleased with our recent results and the steps we have taken forward in terms of our performances but we know it is going to be another step up this weekend. Edinburgh are on the back of two good wins and have scored more points and more tries than any other team this season. So we will need to be at our best, particularly in defence.”

Cardiff Rugby: Ben Thomas; Jason Harries, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango, Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull (c), Rory Thornton, James Botham, Thomas Young, James Ratti. Replacements: Liam Belcher, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, Gwilym Bradley, Ellis Bevan, Aled Summerhill, Cameron Winnett

Edinburgh Rugby: Henry Immelman; Emiliano Boffelli, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Wes Goosen, Charlie Savala, Charlie Shiel; Boan Venter, Adam McBurney, Luan de Bruin, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Hodgson Ben Muncaster, Luke Crosbie (c), Viliame Mata. Replacements: Patrick Harrison, Nick Auterac, Angus Williams, Marshall Sykes, Connor Boyle, Henry Pyrgos, Jaco van der Walt, Jack Blain

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR)

Match details: Sunday, October 30, Cardiff Arms Park, 3pm, live on Premier Sports.