One more round of Guinness PRO14 fixtures before another Heineken break, followed by more Guinness and then the Guinness Six Nations starts. Who says rugby players are obsessed with beer?
Dave Rennie’s men are off to Italy and after back-to-back losses won’t be taking Benetton lightly – the Italians are still in the playoff hunt. He’s named a strong side but arguably not the first choices in some areas – perhaps his second string are due a chance to show they’ve got what it takes?
Ruaridh Jackson comes in for Stuart Hogg – a hip injury explains why he only played one half of the last game, while Pete Horne, Oli Kebble and Alex Dunbar are also added to the casualty list and a new centre partnership of Stafford MacDowell and Sam Johnson will take the field.
Robbie Nairn will make Warriors appearance #2 on the wing, while on the bench Rob Harley is fast closing in on #200.
This game is also the first time either of our pro-teams will be refereed by a woman, Ireland’s Joy Neville.
Sat 5th January 2019 KO: 15:00 (2pm GMT live on Premier Sports)
Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage; Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Simone Ferrari, Irne Herbst, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri da Ollegio, Giovanni Pettinelli, Braam Steyn.
Replacements: Tomas Baravalle, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Tito Tebaldi, Ian McKinley, Marco Zanon
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Robbie Nairn, Stafford MacDowell, Sam Johnson, Nikola Matawalu, Adam Hastings, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Grant Stewart, Siua Halanukonuka, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe.
Replacements:Kevin Bryce, Alex Allan, D’arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Matt Smith, Nick Frisby, Brandon Thomson, Lee Jones.
Unavailable players: Fraser Brown (knee) Alex Dunbar (thigh), Zander Fagerson (ankle), Stuart Hogg (hip), Peter Horne (knee) Oli Kebble (chest), George Turner (ankle)
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
While our old pal John Lacey will take charge of the Edinburgh game, Scotland’s own Hollie Davidson will be one of the assistants.
Richard Cockerill has also rested a number of front line players for the visit of the Southern Kings although he has kept a number of his top team on the bench, just case. Edinburgh also sport a new centre partnership in Socino and Taylor, while Fraser McKenzie will skipper to celebrate a new 2-year deal with the club. As you’d expect from Edinburgh, it still looks like a useful back row of Ritchie, Crosbie and Mata.
Ross Ford still doesn’t start though, with Dave Cherry preferred as Stuart McInally’s understudy. Charlie Shiel (son of Graham) could be set for his Edinburgh competitive debut from the bench.
Sat 5th January 2019 KO: 19:35, BT Murrayfield
Edinburgh Rugby: Dougie Fife, Darcy Graham, George Taylor, Juan Pablo Socino, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Nathan Fowles, Rory Sutherland, Dave Cherry, Simon Berghan, Fraser McKenzie, Callum Hunter-Hill, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Pierre Schoeman, Pietro Ceccarelli, Ben Toolis, Ally Miller, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, James Johnstone
Isuzu Southern Kings: Masixole Banda, Michael Makase, Harlon Klaasen, Tertius Kruger, Yaw Penxe, Martin du Toit, Stefan Ungerer; Alulutho Tshakweni, Alandre van Rooyen, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, JC Astle, CJ Velleman, Tienie Burger, Ruaan Lerm.
Replacements: Mike Willemse, NJ Oosthuizen, Luvuyo Pupuma, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Dries van Schalkwyk, Sarel Pretorius, Berton Klaasen, Ntabeni Dukisa,
Unavailable due to injury: Lewis Carmichael; John Barclay; Magnus Bradbury; Senitiki Nayalo; Luke Hamilton; Matt Scott; Mark Bennett; Chris Dean; Damien Hoyland
Referee: John Lacey