Edinburgh Rugby front-row forwards Geoff Cross and Aleki Lutui will start their first match of the season against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium this Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm South African Time)
The pair’s promotion from the bench is the only change to the side that kicked off last Friday’s win over Dragons at Murrayfield (16-13), with back-row Roddy Grant handed the captaincy in place of rested hooker Ross Ford.
With Ford out of the squad, summer signing James Hilterbrand (hooker) could follow Lutui’s lead in making his competitive debut for the club, should he come on as the Tongan’s replacement.
The performance of the pack has been among the club’s highlights so far this season however, with 62 international caps between them, head coach Alan Solomons is comfortable with exercising the club’s depth in the front-row.
“The way things have gone, Geoff [Cross] and Aleki [Lutui] have had no game time and it’s important that they get that as part of a rotation”, explained Solomons.
It’s now up to them to perform and help maintain the standards set by the pack last week.
“They are experienced international players and should slot in to the side seamlessly, while reselection of the backs allows us to retain a measure of consistency in that area.”
Standing in Edinburgh’s way of a second successive Welsh win is an unbeaten Ospreys side that has taken six points from two games on the road, with Solomons’ men the first to run out at the Liberty Stadium this season.
Solomons added: “Ospreys have consistently been one of the top sides in the PRO12. They’re always in contention when the competition reaches the business end.
“They’re very tough opponents, especially at home, so it’s going to be a real challenge for the players. However, the way I look at it, is that it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to show what they can do.”
As a team we’re looking for continuous improvement across the board.
“I think we saw a bit of that in our defence against Dragons last weekend, and I’d like to see more in that area once again.”
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Ospreys in RaboDirect PRO12 round three at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday 21 September (kick-off 6.30pm)
15 Greig Tonks
14 Nikki Walker
13 Dougie Fife
12 Nick De Luca
11 Tim Visser
10 Harry Leonard
9 Sean Kennedy
1 Alasdair Dickinson
2 Aleki Lutui
3 Geoff Cross
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Izak van der Westhuizen
6 Dimitri Basilaia
7 Roddy Grant CAPTAIN
8 David Denton
16 James Hilterbrand
17 Wicus Blaauw
18 WP Nel
19 Ollie Atkins
20 Hamish Watson
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22 Michael Tait
23 Jack Cuthbert