Edinburgh Rugby aim to secure ‘winning momentum’ with a strong selection for tomorrow’s home clash against RaboDirect PRO12 new boys Zebre at Murrayfield Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm).
The game is the first on Scottish soil for the Parma-based side who arrive at Murrayfield Stadium as one of three teams yet to secure a win in the division.
Edinburgh Rugby go into the match off the back of a rousing away win over Cardiff Blues (21-19) and have their sights set on retaining their unbeaten home record against visiting Italian teams.
However, despite their opponent’s slow start and the boon of home advantage, a strong selection suggests that head coach Michael Bradley is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “Against Cardiff we were very focused and played very well. We created a lot of chances in the game, and potentially should have won by more.
“We kept a degree of speed and width to our play while the platforms provided by our scrum and lineout were very good. They gave us a good launch pad and allowed us to build and sustain pressure on Cardiff.
“Zebre’s last game against Connacht was in doubt right up until the last play, so I think they’ll be coming here with high hopes.
“They play a 15-man game, have a strong set-piece and are not afraid to run the ball around the park, so it should make for an exciting game.
“I think the scrum could again be a key feature. They competed well in that area against Connacht and will no doubt look to target our scrum, having had success in that area last season under the guise of Aironi Rugby.
“Our pack have done an awful lot of work in that area in pre-season, and the two performances in the two competitive matches so far this season have shown the benefits, particularly in yielding a penalty try from Cardiff.
“These performances mean we can go into this match with confidence, as we seek to maintain winning momentum.”
Bradley has made five changes to the side that started against Cardiff Blues, with inside-centre Matt Scott returning for his first match of the new campaign.
In an astonishing 2011/12 season, Scott went from first year professional to Scotland regular, getting his first taste of the international arena in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations, and starting every match of the Scotland’s three-Test summer triumph in Australasia.
Having completed a near 12-month spell of competitive action, the strength, skills and conditioning teams at Murrayfield have taken extra time to work with the 21-year-old to ensure he has had the benefit of rest, recovery and a full pre-season, before his refreshed return to action this Friday.
The remaining changes come in the pack, with props John Yapp and Willem Nel trading places with Allan Jacobsen and Geoff Cross, who start on the bench, while Scotland and Fiji back-rows Ross Rennie [pictured] and Netani Talei replace Roddy Grant and the injured David Denton (thigh).
Also returning to the squad is Tom Brown, who continues his comeback from a hamstring strain as replacement.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Zebre at Murrayfield Stadium on Friday 14 September (kick-off 7.30pm) – live on BBC Radio Scotland
15 Greig Tonks
14 Lee Jones
13 Nick De Luca
12 Matt Scott
11 Tim Visser
10 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN
9 Richie Rees
1 John Yapp
2 Ross Ford
3 Willem Nel
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Sean Cox
6 Stuart McInally
7 Ross Rennie
8 Netani Talei
16 Andy Titterrell
17 Allan Jacobsen
18 Geoff Cross
19 Perry Parker
20 Dimitri Basilaia
21 Chris Leck
22 John Houston
23 Tom Brown
Not available: Ben Atiga (hip), Ben Cairns (knee), David Denton (thigh), Steven Lawrie (knee), Steven Turnbull (shoulder).