A COUPLE of players who might have fancied their chances of being involved in this summer’s Lions tour had things panned out slightly differently will make their comeback from injury during tonight’s Rainbow Cup clash – which is doubling up as this season’s 1872 Cup decider – between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh at Scotstoun. 

Scott Cummings, who will start in the second-row for Warriors after eight weeks out with a broken hand suffered whilst playing for Scotland against Ireland during the Six Nations, was always an long-odds outside bet to make the Lions. Hooker Stuart McInally, who will start on the bench for Edinburgh after being out of action since early January, would have been more of a contender had he stayed fit and managed to produce his pre-2019 form during the Six Nations. 

Of the five home-based Scottish Lions, three will play tonight, with scrum-half Ali Price and tight-head prop Zander Fagerson – making his 100th appearance for the club – named in the Warriors starting fifteen, while Duhan van der Mewe is on the wing for Edinburgh.  

Meanwhile, flanker Hamish Watson is resting a minor groin issue and loose-head prop Rory Sutherland is five or six weeks away from being fit again following the dislocation of his shoulder playing for Scotland against France back in March. “Hamish has got a slightly tight groin so considering what is ahead of him I think it’s prudent that we look after him,” reassured Edinburgh head coach Cockerill. 

Glasgow also welcome back Stafford McDowall, who has been out since early November with a shoulder injury. The other changes to the starting side after that heavy loss to Benetton last time out are Ratu Tagive coming in on the right wing in place of the unavailable Rufus McLean, Ali Price taking over from the benched George Horne at scrum-half, and Tom Gordon returning at openside flanker meaning that Fraser Brown shifts to hooker and George Turner drops to the bench. 

Edinburgh have made nine changes, despite beating Zebre in their Rainbow Cup opener, with Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie and Viliame Mata all coming into the pack, while Henry Pyrgos, Mark Bennett and van der Merwe join the backline. 

Two academy prospects in 22-year-old Ross Thompson of Glasgow and 21-year-old Nathan Chamberlain of Edinburgh – deputising for Jaco van der Walt, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury – will face off at stand-off. 

“They’ve both gone well when they’ve had the opportunity and it’ll be interesting to see how they go in the pressurised situation of a derby game,” said Cockerill. “This will be Nathan’s toughest game so far, although obviously he did pretty well when he played in Connacht and was good against Zebre.  

“I’m not sure winning the 1872 Cup would be the saviour of either team’s season,” Cockerill added. “But we want to win because they are our local rivals and we want to progress in this tournament as far as we can. We’ve both got an eye on tomorrow night but also on the future.” 

In contrast, opposite number Danny Wilson attached a bit more significance to the game. 

“It’s a decider,” he said. “If we can come out of this season having qualified for Europe and having won the 1872 Cup for the second time in seven years then there’s something there we can build on. So, it’s a big game and a big opportunity. And we want to bounce back from that last performance. I’m certain in a derby we will see that.” 

Glasgow Warriors (v Edinburgh at Scotstoun, Friday @ 8.15pm): C Forbes; R Tagive, N Grigg, S McDowall, K Steyn; R Thompson, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, R Harley, S Cummings, F Lokotui, T Gordon, R Wilson. Subs: G Turner, T Lambert, E Pieretto, R Gray, L McDonald, G Horne, P Horne, N Matawalu. 

Edinburgh: D Hoyland; E Stu, M Bennett, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; N Chamberlain, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, J Hodgson, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, L Crosbie, V Mata. Subs: S McInally, B Venter, L Atalifo, M Sykes, M Kunavula, C Shiel, C Savala, J Johnstone.