Mark Bennett set for Edinburgh debut but Darryl Marfo out of derby

Edinburgh have received mixed news ahead of Saturday's first 1872 Cup clash with Glasgow Warriors, loosehead prop Darryl Marfo is injured and will miss out, but centre Mark Bennett should make his long-awaited debut.

Edinburgh's Mark Bennett during a training session. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
Edinburgh's Mark Bennett during a training session. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Marfo, 27, had a dream start to life north of the border, making the No 1 jersey at Edinburgh his own in the early part of the campaign and then earning his first three caps for Scotland in the autumn Tests.

Having been an unknown quantity when he arrived in the summer from Bath he has certainly made his mark in a short space of time, but will not go up against Edinburgh’s biggest rivals in the Guinness Pro14 due to a back problem.

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Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “Potentially Darryl will miss both games [against Glasgow, the second leg is on 30 December], but it is nothing long-term as he 
historically has had back issues and has a tight back at the moment.

“He played very well in the autumn Tests. He works really hard and he has got the best out of the ability he has got.

“The challenge for him is to do that for us and keep that consistency, but we won’t have him available this weekend.”

With Al Dickinson and Allan Dell still out injured it means that Rory Sutherland, who returned from a year out with a groin issue in October, will likely start for Edinburgh.

There was better news coming out of the club concerning Bennett, the big summer signing set to make his first appearance in the black and red, most likely from the bench, against his old side.

Scotland cap Bennett, 24, joined Edinburgh from the Warriors at the conclusion of 2016/17 and at that stage was already a few months into a rehab programme following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

He looked set to play against Krasny Yar after ten months out last week before a slight niggle delayed his debut, but Cockerill said: “Mark is fit and ready to go, he has been cleared from all his tests.

“Clearly he is motivated to pull on an Edinburgh shirt for the first time. He is very keen to play against his old team.

“We just want his quality on the field – the sooner the better. We will see if he is involved off the bench, but we will have to see if that should be the case after not playing for ten months. He has played for Scotland, he has played sevens for Great Britain, he has a good physical game and has a good edge about him.

“He is not a polite Edinburgh public schoolboy so that is a good start, he will be very good for us on and off the field.”

When he arrived in the summer Cockerill said Edinburgh had a “soft underbelly” and while he admits it has not completely disappeared he believes their recent run of eight wins in nine matches in all competitions has shown some progress.

He explained: “I have hardened it [the soft underbelly] up a bit here, but there are times that it still shows occasionally.

“We are looking forward to the test against Glasgow who are unbeaten in the league. We like to think we are making strides of improvement, now this will be a real test for us. Nobody has beaten them in the Pro14 yet and Glasgow have the majority of the Scotland team, certainly in the backline, so it will be a barometer of where we are at. It’s a big day for us as a club, we hope to get a bumper crowd and I’m hoping Edinburgh Rugby take another step forward in what we’re trying to do.

“When I arrived I wanted a team that people wanted to come and support. Now actually I think we’re getting to a place where people should come and support us, because we’re doing some good things and we’re playing a good brand of rugby.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the match second-row Lewis 
Carmichael has extended his stay in the capital for a further two years until May 2020.

The 22-year-old from North Berwick – who can also 
operate in the back-row – has had more exposure to the top team this term since a loan spell in Australia with Western Force.