Michael Bradley has made eight changes to the Edinburgh squad for their return to PRO12 action against the Ospreys at Murrayfield.
Michael Bradley has made eight changes to the Edinburgh squad for their return to PRO12 action against Ospreys at Murrayfield.
Just three weeks after booking a home Heineken Cup quarter-final with a 34-11 win over London Irish, the club's focus now turns to the first of six consecutive rounds of league action, which begins against the second-placed Welshmen.
Despite nine of the club's players committed to the Scotland's Six Nations campaign, the line-up has a familiar feel, with several of the season's top performers taking to the field as Murrayfield turns back to black and red.
The club also welcomes the return of four players from Scotland A's 35-0 defeat of England Saxons at Netherdale last Friday – Tom Brown and Matt Scott at wing and outside centre and back-rows Stuart McInally and Roddy Grant, who skippers.
“At the start of the season the Rugby World Cup presented some of our younger players with an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the Edinburgh Rugby side and their success has been reflected by an increasing prominence for Edinburgh Rugby and, for some, selection for Scotland and Scotland A,” said coach Bradley.
“We're now approaching a time where these players are no longer considered 'up and coming' but as important members of the Edinburgh Rugby squad, and with that comes the pressure to perform.
“We know all about our success in securing a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-final but we aren't where we'd like to be in the RaboDirect PRO12 and it's time to address that starting this Friday against an Ospreys side at the business end of the championship.”
Looking to keep the club on track in the international window is the championship's top try-scorer Tim Visser, who starts his 50th championship appearance on the wing.
John Houston reforms a winning centre partnership with the returning Matt Scott while Phil Godman and Chris Leck start their first match as a half-back pairing.
With the club's all international front-row preparing to face Wales on Sunday, Kyle Traynor, Alun Walker and Jack Gilding start the match, with new signing Ulises Gamboa ready to make his debut from the bench. Sean Cox and Grant Gilchrist pair up in the second-row.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys have Wales second-row Alun-Wyn Jones on the replacements bench as the experienced forward continues to recover from injury.
Tom Smith captains the side from the blindside flank while Dan Biggar and Kahn Fotuali'i form the half-back pairing. Richard Hibbard is wearing number two.
Jonathan Humphreys is helping prepare a squad that has 19 players absent on international duty with Wales, Ireland, Wales U20, Wales Sevens and Scotland U20.
“Edinburgh is always a tough place to go, they are a good team who like to play attacking rugby and it's never easy against them,” said the forwards coach.
“Our record up there in recent years speaks for itself so we know we have to improve hugely on how we've performed up there in the last few seasons. It's about being focused, preparing properly, paying attention to detail, knowing our roles and being clinical. If we get those aspects right then things should fall into place.
“We targeted a home semi-final in this competition and with nine games to go we're in second place, so we are up there, with our destiny in our hands. It's an exciting challenge for these boys know. These were the ones who had such a great start to the season with six from six, and it's this group that can control where we finish with a run of four games now while the Six Nations are on.”
Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Matt Scott, 12 John Houston, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Roddy Grant (capt), 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Alun Walker, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Ulises Gamboa, 19 Esteban Lozada, 20 Alan MacDonald, 21 Alex Black, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Jim Thompson.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tom Smith (capt), 5 James King, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Joe Rees, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Alun-Wyn Jones, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Sonny Parker.
Date: Friday, February 10
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)