Edinburgh captain Stuart McInally has been given an extended post-World-Cup break and, like his international team-mate Jonny Gray at Glasgow, will miss the first two weekends of European action.
McInally’s front-row colleague WP Nel will have nearly as long on the sidelines as the national and club coaches try to ensure key players have adequate rest in a long and attritional season.
“McInally [pictured] won’t be available for the first two rounds and Nel won’t be available for the first round,” Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said yesterday after naming his team for this evening’s Pro14 match at Benetton. “It was a decision from Gregor [Townsend, the Scotland coach] around rest times – the SRU stipulated what rest periods the players were required to have. We’ll manage the other players individually and they’ll come back in over the next few weeks.”
Magnus Bradbury, Blair Kinghorn and Henry Pyrgos all played for Edinburgh last week in their first outings since the World Cup, and are involved again in Treviso along with Fijian forward Bill Mata. The rest of Edinburgh’s international contingent – Nel and McInally excepted – are due back in the next fortnight.
“[Simon] Berghan and [Ben] Toolis were available last week and this week, but we’ve had discussions and I’ve chosen to give them a bit more time,” Cockerill added. “Next week, [Grant] Gilchrist, [Jamie] Ritchie, [John] Barclay and [Darcy] Graham will come back to training.
“We’ll just manage them individually and make sure that when they’re back, they’re ready to commit fully. They’ve had a long time away from home, and emotionally as well as physically, that’s pretty draining. I’ve experienced that myself.”
Winger Duhan van der Merwe is rested tonight and loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman is on the bench. Jaco van der Walt, Lewis Carmichael and Bradbury come into the starting line-up.
l In a rearranged Tennents Premiership match, Currie will entertain Aberdeen Grammar this afternoon.