Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Date published: October 28 2011

Edinburgh will start five of their returning internationals from the Rugby World Cup against Leinster at Murrayfield on Friday.

Edinburgh will start five of their returning internationals from the Rugby World Cup against Leinster at Murrayfield on Friday.

The returnees include Chris Paterson, the nation's most capped player and record point's scorer at full-back; centre, Nick de Luca, and the complete Scotland front-row that started the nation's matches against Romania and Argentina: Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (hooker) and Geoff Cross.

Their reintroduction brings a potent mix of youth and experience to the black and red ranks as 20-year-old season debutant Matt Scott retains his centre spot to partner de Luca for the first time while Tim Visser and Simon Webster start out wide.

Captain Greig Laidlaw retains the number nine jersey and will line-up alongside 19-year-old Harry Leonard, who earns his first start for the club since debuting as a replacement against Aironi earlier this season.

Behind the front-row sit Esteban Lozada and Steven Turnbull at lock while David Denton, Roddy Grant and Stuart McInally start their fourth straight match as a back-row unit.

Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Michael Bradley was confident that Scottish internationals' return would help in their bid for victory against the Heineken Cup champions.

“Playing at home is an advantage for us and we have the Rugby World Cup boys back so it's shaping up to be a very exciting game,” he said.

“They're good professionals and are fully switched back into Edinburgh Rugby mode so there's been a great buzz around training and we're certainly looking forward to seeing them play against Leinster Friday night.

“Their return has increased the competition for places, particularly with a full international front-row coming back, who should give us a good platform to launch our backline and our back-row, who have performed well in a number of games so far this season,” added Bradley.

The capital club go into the game with just one home loss in six matches and can reflect positively on the last time the sides met at Murrayfield, when Geoff Cross and Tim Visser were among the scorers as the club raced to a 32-24 bonus-point victory.

“The priority for us is to get more points in the RaboDirect PRO12. Home matches with home advantage are critical so we'll be looking for a win,” explained Bradley.

“Like us, Leinster have a lot of quality players coming back so, while the timing is good for us, it's also good for Leinster so I think it'll be a great match.”

Meanwhile, Leo Cullen captains Leinster and is one of 10 Ireland internationals in the starting line-up.

Amongst them is hooker Sean Cronin, who makes his full debut for the province. Cronin starts up the front alongside Heinke van der Merwe and Mike Ross.

Luke Fitzgerald makes his 90th appearance and moves to the wing in a back three which also includes the Kearney brothers, David and Rob.

Eoin O'Malley forms a centre partnership with Fergus McFadden, with Isaac Boss linking up with Jonathan Sexton at half back.

Fionn Carr joins the likes of Rhys Ruddock, Richardt Strauss and Steven Sykes on the replacements bench.

Cillian Willis was not required to travel and his short term contract with Leinster Rugby has concluded allowing him to play for Greystones this weekend.

Form: Edinburgh Rugby's last five matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Scotsmen's only defeat at Murrayfield in their last six games was 15-38 to Cardiff Blues in round one. No Irish provincial side has won at Murrayfield since Munster did so on 10 September 2010. Leinster have won their last three RaboDirect PRO12 matches since their 19-23 reversal at home to Glasgow on 17 September. The Leinstermen have lost on their last three visits to Scotland. Each side won its respective home game when they met last season, whilst Leinster's most recent victory at Murrayfield was on 26 September 2009.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Simon Webster, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Dave Denton, 5 Steve Turnbull, 4 Esteban Lozada, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Mike Blair, 22 Jim Thompson, 23 Tom Brown.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 David Kearney, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Leo Auva'a, 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Nathan White, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Friday, October 28
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19:35 (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Leighton Hodges
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Archie McInally
TMO: Iain Heard