Preview: Leinster v Edinburgh

Date published: April 14 2016

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Ireland international Rob Kearney will return from injury to start at full-back in Friday's big PRO12 clash with Edinburgh in Dublin.

Kearney will run out having last featured for Leinster in their Champions Cup match away to Wasps on January 23.

Luke Fitzgerald, who pulled up with an injury in the first-half of Leinster's game against Connacht three weeks ago, starts on the left wing, with Fergus McFadden completing the back three.

Ben Te'o and Noel Reid will start the game as Leinster's midfield pairing, with Luke McGrath and Ian Madigan selected as the provinces starting half-back partnership.

There is a new-look front-row for Friday's game with Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross in for Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong, who all started in the win over Munster.

Leinster Academy lock Ross Molony starts in the second-row with Mick Kearney, who will make his fifth appearance for the province.

Rhys Ruddock captains Leinster from the back-row alongside Josh van der Flier, who will make his twelfth start of the season, and Jordi Murphy, who starts at number eight.

Meanwhile for Edinburgh, there are two changes to the backs, with Chris Dean coming in at outside centre and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne moving up from the bench to take the scrum-half berth.

Blair Kinghorn retains the full-back spot with Damien Hoyland and Tom Brown on the wings. Dean is partnered by Phil Burleigh at inside centre while Jason Tovey – who gave a man-of-the-match performance on his club debut against Zebre last time out – retains the ten jersey.

In the pack, the front-row of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel remains, with Ford leading the side in the absence of the injured Mike Coman.

The second-row pairing of Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis is retained with Cornell Du Preez again pulling on the number eight jersey.

John Hardie returns from injury at openside while Jamie Ritchie is on the blindside. Ritchie, along with substitute Magnus Bradbury, will be returning to the ground where they made their professional debut last season. That match also saw a first cap for hooker George Turner – albeit he debuted on the wing – and Heriot’s club captain, Jack Turley, who started at lock.

"Leinster top the table and playing them in Dublin will be a huge challenge. We are all excited about the game and of the challenge it presents," said head coach Alan Solomons.

Form: Leinster are unbeaten in their last twelve home games in the Guinness PRO12 since their 14-16 reversal to Newport Gwent Dragons at the RDS Arena in February 2015. The Leinstermen have not lost at home to a Scottish opponent since Glasgow visited the RDS Arena in September 2011. Edinburgh's only defeat in the last four rounds of Guinness PRO12 was 23-28 at home to Connacht on 4 March. Edinburgh won their most recent away game, at Dragons in round 18, but have not won successive fixtures on their travels for over 12 months. Edinburgh were victorious 16-9 at Meggetland in round 1 and have only once before achieved a PRO12 season's double over the Leinstermen – in 2003/04. Edinburgh's most recent victory on Leinster's soil came on a trip to Donnybrook in the PRO12 in November 2005.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Dave Kearney

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn 14 Damien Hoyland 13 Chris Dean 12 Phil Burleigh 11 Tom Brown 10 Jason Tovey 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford (c), 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Hamish Watson, 22 Sean Kennedy, 23 Mike Allan

Date: Friday, April 15
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Andy Brace (Ireland), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

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