Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Date published: September 3 2015

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Edinburgh will hope to improve on last season's PRO12 finish as they kick off their campaign at home to a Leinster team out for revenge.

The Irish side missed the play-offs for the first time since they were introduced, finishing fifth overall, while Edinburgh slumped in the final weeks of the season to miss out on a spot in the top seven and a chance to play in the Champions Cup.

With the World Cup preparations in full swing, both teams are decimated by international absentees, with Leinster, under new coach Leo Cullen, particularly hard-hit.

The former second-row, who replaced Matt O'Connor in the top job over the off-season, has gone with a mix of youth and experience, including the return of club legend Isa Nacewa who has come out of retirement.

He will provide huge experience, while the likes of Fergus McFadden and Michael Bent will aim to put their World Cup disappointment behind them after being named in the starting line-up.

The youth is in evidence in the half-backs, with Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh charged with running the show, while Jack Conan will be looking to build on a promising campaign last season that saw him capped for the first time last month.

Edinburgh have also mixed things up, although they have the experienced Phil Burleigh pulling the strings at fly-half. More important might be the arrival of Nasi Manu, the number eight coming in fresh from leading the Highlanders to the Super Rugby title.

He starts alongside skipper Roddy Grant, while Ben Toolis gets the nod in the second row after missing out on World Cup selection.

Form: Edinburgh's only victory in the final four rounds of last season's Guinness PRO12 was 37-0 at home to Zebre in Round 20. Meggetland hosts its fourth PRO12 encounter – the other three all being in season 2013/14 where the Scotsmen's only victory in those games was 31-25 over the Dragons in February that year. Leinster have perhaps surprisingly only won in round 1 once in the last seven years; 42-19 at Scarlets in 2013. The Leinstermen concluded last season's campaign with a pair of victories, at home to Treviso and away to Edinburgh at Murrayfield, and have not won three in a row in the tournament since the end of the 2013/14 campaign. Edinburgh have won just one of their last nine encounters with Leinster since 2010: 11-6 at Murrayfield in December 2013.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Roddy Grant (c), 6 Cornell Du Preez, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Neil Cochrane, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 James Johnstone.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Cathal Marsh, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Kevin McLaughlin (c), 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Tom Denton, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Michael Bent.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Royce Burke-Flynn, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Date: Friday, September 4
Venue: Meggetland
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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