MANY players take a break of a month or more after an arduous summer on international duty. Emiliano Boffelli, it seems, can make do with far less, such is his eagerness to return to action.

When the Argentine star joined Edinburgh just after the start of last season, he made his debut just five days after playing for his country against Ireland. This time round he has had a little more time to put his feet up, nearly two weeks having elapsed since the Pumas’ game against South Africa in the last round of the Rugby Championship.

Argentina lost that match, but it was a memorable summer nonetheless for Boffelli, who makes his first appearance of the season for Edinburgh tonight as one of eight changes to the team’s starting line-up for the URC fixture against the Lions. As if scoring the winning try for the Pumas in the three-Test series against Scotland was not enough, he then racked up 20 points in his country’s victory over New Zealand. 

Whether he plays at full-back or in this evening’s position on the wing, Boffelli has the precious ability to create something out of nothing. That gift, and his infectious enthusiasm, can inspire his team-mates to excel, and Edinburgh coach Mike Blair hopes that is exactly what will happen tonight at the DAM Health Stadium.

“He had an excellent summer, so it’s brilliant to bring him back in,” Blair said. “He played against South Africa two weeks ago and he's had a week off - a mental and physical freshen-up. He’s a really popular guy within the group.” 

Blair has made eight changes in all to his starting line-up to face the Lions. As well as Boffelli, centre Matt Currie and scrum-half Henry Pyrgos come into the back line, taking over from Mark Bennett and Ben Vellacott respectively. Up front, Boan Venter and Luan de Bruin are the starting props instead of Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel, Glen Young comes in for Sam Skinner at lock, and in the back row Luke Crosbie and Bill Mata replace Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining.

Bennett, Vellacott, Ritchie and Haining are all listed as unavailable along with Connor Boyle and Wes Goosen. “Mostly minor injuries,” Blair said when asked to explain that list.

“The plan with Jamie was to give him this week off anyway. He played both warm-up games and then three in a row after coming back from a fairly major injury. Mark Bennett was touch and go and if that was the last game of the season or a final then we could have brought him out, but we thought it was right to make a decision early in the week.”

Duhan van der Merwe, who re-joined on Thursday from Worcester, still has some administrative issues to finalise before he can play, but Blair expects him to be available for next week’s home game against Benetton.

“There is a load of stuff to get through,” the coach said. “We’re hopeful that’ll happen over the next 48 hours but we’re not 100 per cent sure. 

“He’s not in with us at the moment. But he played two weeks ago against Newcastle and has been training this week. We’re of the opinion that he’ll come in and be ready to go.”

The Lions have won their last two outings, both on the road, beating the Ospreys 28-27 two weeks ago then following that up with a 31-18 win at Cardiff. Edinburgh have lost their last two games, against the Bulls and the Stormers in South Africa.

Edinburgh (v the Lions at the DAM Health Stadium, tonight [Fri] 7.35pm): H Immelman; D Graham, M Currie, J Lang, E Boffelli; B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos; B Venter, S McInally, L de Bruin, G Young, G Gilchrist (captain), L Crosbie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: D Cherry, P Schoeman, W Nel, M Sykes, B Muncaster, C Shiel, C Savala, C Dean.

Lions: A Coetzee; S Pienaar, H van Wyk, M Louw, Q Horn; G Lombard, S Nohamba; S Sithole, PJ Botha, R Dreyer, P Jansen van Vuren, R Nothnagel (captain), S Sangweni, R Venter, F Horn. Substitutes: J Visagie, JP Smith, R Smith, E Tshituka, R Straeuli, M van den Berg, J Hendrikse, Z du Plessis.

Referee: A Piardi (Italy).