The return of new cult loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman is one of ten changes made to the capital side fresh from European success.
The changes are probably not all voluntary, as Richard Cockerill’s hand has been forced by the availability of his top players currently in Scotland camp ahead of next weekend’s extra International against Wales. Some of the squad have been released back to Edinburgh including Henry Pyrgos who will captain the side, Luke Hamilton – who was a late call up after Magnus Bradbury’s injury – and interestingly Simon Berghan, who you might think was the first choice tighthead given recent internationals and Zander Fagerson’s injury. Pickings might be even slimmer next week as the full test window approaches.
Cockerill hands a debut to Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy product and second-row Jamie Hodgson who partners Callum Hunter-Hill in a very callow second row pairing, while Italian international prop Pietro Ceccarelli along with Callum Atkinson, Mungo Mason and Jason Baggott all stand to make their competitive debuts from the bench.
It might seem like a second string team but there is still plenty of good news in terms of the development of squad depth, such as the appearance of Luke Crosbie who was impressive last season, and more game time for Darcy Graham who has been impressive in this one. The first XV should all be capable enough and Bill Mata alone could be enough to win the game before he heads off to Fiji camp…
Good luck to all who make their debut.
Zebre Rugby Club: Francois Brummer, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Castello, Gabriele di Giulio, Carlo Canna, Guglielmo Palazzani; Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani, Dario Chistolini, Dave Sisi, George Fabio Biagi, Jacopo Bianchi, Johan Meyer, Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: Luhandre Luus, Daniele Rimpelli, Giosue Zilocchi, Leonardo Krumov, Apisai Tauyavuca, Riccardo Raffaele, Tommaso Boni, Paula Balekana.
Edinburgh Rugby: Dougie Fife, Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Henry Pyrgos (capt); Pierre Schoeman, Ross Ford, Simon Berghan, Jamie Hodgson, Callum Hunter-Hill, Luke Hamilton, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Rory Sutherland, Pietro Ceccarelli, Callum Atkinson, Mungo Mason, Sean Kennedy, Jason Baggott, Juan Pablo Socino.
Referee: Andy Brace
Friday, kick off 20:00, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, coverage on FreeSports