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Solomons: Embrace first-team chance

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons wants his understudies to grasp the chance offered to them by international call-ups for his top performers.

The capital club host Zebre at Murrayfield in the RaboDirect Pro12 on Friday night but will make eight changes after losing a string of their big names to Scotland for the Autumn Tests.

But South African boss Solomons has challenged his second string to make the most of that opportunity by beating the Italians.

He said: "Zebre have become a good team and will no doubt come here fancying their chances, particularly as they'll view us as a depleted side.

"They have a lot of guys who have represented the Italian national side and have recruited some useful players, like All Black Brendon Leonard who is a key figure for them.

"It's going to be a tough game, but that's what's so great about the Pro12 now, there are just no easy games in this competition.

"Obviously there are number of players missing for us, which has an impact, but it provides opportunities for other players to step up to the plate, to compete at this level and for places in the team.

"It will be a tough challenge, but I have every confidence in them."

The Murrayfield men have won three of their last four games at home in all competitions, and hope to complete the second part of an Italian double in the capital.

Hooker Aleki Lutui, back-row forward Tomas Leonardi and prop Wicus Blaauw start in place of international trio Ross Ford, David Denton and Alasdair Dickinson, although the latter has been released from the Scotland camp to appear on the bench.

Back-row Roddy Grant - absent from last week's win to be present at the birth of his daughter Reeva - starts in place of the injured Dimitri Basilaia (head knock) and will captain the side.

In the backs, centres Ben Atiga and Joaquin Dominguez, scrum-half Sean Kennedy and wing Jack Cuthbert step in for Scotland quartet Matt Scott, Nick De Luca, Greig Laidlaw and injured winger Tim Visser, sidelined with a broken leg.


From Belfast Telegraph