Edinburgh have had a tough time these last few weeks, losing two games that they equally could have won away from home. Last weekend, in particular, was tough with injuries to Bill Mata (arm) and Mark Bennett (hamstring) keeping them out for a while (Bennett for the longest, but not as long as poor Duncan Taylor who has injured both his cruciate ligaments!).
This week though it is a return to home (artificial hybrid) soil and the visit of Connacht who were very narrowly beaten by Glasgow in Round 1. Under new coach Andy Friend, Connacht have been playing more of the brand of all-court rugby that they did under Pat Lam and they now welcome back Ireland international Bundee Aki on to the bench.
Edinburgh meanwhile have “Pinball” Hamish Watson back in the side following the birth of his first child. The loss of Mata means that Luke Hamilton moves to Number 8, possibly a position that will suit him better and also allows the excellent Jamie Ritchie and Watson on the pitch at the same time.
James Johnstone is brought in for Bennett ahead of Chris Dean or new signing Juan Pablo Socino in the centre but the Argentinian has made the bench and it could be a first chance to see what he can do in partnership with Matt Scott. Scott might find himself shuffled back to 13 for the duration of Bennett’s injury if it works, having played there a fair bit for Gloucester.
Elsewhere things are pretty settled in terms of the players picked by Richard Cockerill this season, with WP Nel winning the Tighthead Tombola this week and Schoeman once again keeping Undefeated British and Irish Lion Allan Dell on the bench.
Several players will make their Murrayfield debuts including Schoeman, Simon Hickey and Socino while it will be first appearances there in Edinburgh colours for Luke Hamilton and the rejuvenated Henry Pyrgos.
With a tricky away visit to Leinster next weekend, now would be the perfect chance for Edinburgh to get their first win of the season but it’s not going to be simple.
Edinburgh Rugby: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, James Johnstone, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Henry Pyrgos, Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Luke Hamilton.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Fraser McKenzie, Magnus Bradbury, Sean Kennedy, Jaco van der Walt, Juan Pablo Socino.
Connacht Rugby: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Conan O’Donnell, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Ultan Dillane, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Bundee Aki.
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
At BT Murrayfield on Friday 14 September (kick-off 7.35pm), TV Coverage live on Premier Sports.