European Champions Cup: Toulon v Edinburgh – visitors recall seven Scotland stars


Blair Kinghorn returns at full-back for Edinburgh against Toulon
European Champions Cup: Toulon v Edinburgh
Venue: Stade Mayol, Toulon Date: Saturday, 12 January Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Leaders Edinburgh recall seven Scotland internationals among 11 changes to their side for Saturday’s Champions Cup Pool 5 meeting with Toulon in France.

Blair Kinghorn, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Jaco van der Walt and Henry Pyrgos come into the backline.

Up front, Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist and Hamish Watson return.

France internationals Guilhem Guirado, Anthony Belleau, Mathieu Bastareaud and Francois Trinh-Duc start for the hosts.

They also include Wales and Lions scrum-half Rhys Webb, Springboks wing JP Pietersen and former All Blacks wing Julian Savea in their backline.

Richard Cockerill’s side have won their last five matches and lead Pool 5 by four points from Montpellier, who host Newcastle Falcons – a further three points adrift – at 13:00 GMT on Saturday.

Victory for Vern Cotter’s Montpellier would set up a group decider at Murrayfield on 18 October, while a Falcons win will mean Edinburgh starting their match in Toulon knowing victory would seal a quarter-final berth.

Toulon, who were thumped 40-14 at Murrayfield in the return fixture in October, are out of qualifying contention after losing three of their first four pool games, and have slumped to 11th in the Top 14.

Home quarter-final ‘would be pretty epic’

But Edinburgh centre Chris Dean insists the visitors will not under-estimate the three-time champions, who won the tournament each year from 2013 to 2015.

“Obviously on the back of recent results we are confident, but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves,” said the 24-year-old.

“We are playing quality opposition with some fantastic players in their team, so we are not going to take them lightly.

“A win would be great publicity for what we are doing and how far we have come in the last year and a half, and would put us in a good position to hopefully qualify out of the group.

“It could afford us an opportunity to go for a home quarter-final, and that would be pretty epic playing it at Murrayfield. But the first job is obviously to get a win in Toulon and then we will see what happens against Montpellier.”

Toulon: Smaili; Pietersen, Bastareaud, Trinh-Duc, Savea; Belleau, Webb; Gros, Guirado, Setiano, Kruger, Taofifenua, Mbarga, Isa, Lakafia.

Replacements: Etrillard, Chiocci, M Van der Merwe, Monribot, Carbonel, Zeghdar, Cottin, Gorgodze.

Edinburgh: Kinghorn; Graham, Johnstone, Dean, Van der Merwe; Van der Walt, Pyrgos; Schoeman, McInally (capt), Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, Mata.

Replacements: Cherry, Dell, Berghan, McKenzie, Crosbie, Fowles, Hickey, Socino.

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