Preview: Leinster v Edinburgh

Date published: October 31 2014

Star signing Ben Te’o will make his senior debut for Leinster at outside centre in the Guiness PRO12 against Edinburgh on Friday.

Star signing Ben Te’o will make his senior debut for Leinster at outside centre in the Pro12 against Edinburgh on Friday.

The game has come too soon for Jordi Murphy, Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden and although they trained this week, it was felt that they were better served getting another few weeks of training under their belts with a trip to Treviso at the end of November on the horizon. Shane Jennings is a little bit further away from fitness but is also aiming for a return against Treviso.

Kevin McLaughlin returns after knee injury to captain the side form the back row, in one of eight changes to the team that beat Castres away in the Champions Cup last weekend. McLaughlin last featured in early September in the round two win over Scarlets in the RDS.

Michael Bent once again starts in the front row, but swaps sides to loose head while Tadhg Furlong is selected at tight head. Richardt Strauss starts at hooker as he closes is on 100 caps for Leinster. Tom Denton makes his first start of the year in the second row with Kane Douglas retained beside him.

McLaughlin captains the side from blindside flanker, with Dominic Ryan once again selected at openside. Jack Conan starts from number eight for his fifth appearance of the season.

There are three changes in the backs but both wingers, Darragh Fanning on the right and Luke Fitzgerald on the left, are once again selected as is full-back Zane Kirchner.

However it’s a new centre partnership with Noel Reid selected at inside centre and Te’o selected outside him for his senior debut having played all 80 minutes last weekend for the Leinster ‘A’ team in the British & Irish Cup against Carmarthen Quins.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh face a massive challenge in this Friday’s clash with 20 players unavailable through injury (18) and national squad call-up (two).

A combination of last Friday’s staggering injury count coupled with this week’s national squad duty sees a plethora of changes.

In the backs, Nick McLennan and Joaquin Dominguez move from the bench to start at full back and outside centre respectively while Dougie Fife – a late injury withdrawal from last Friday’s XV – returns on the wing.

Andries Strauss, also withdrawn late through injury last Friday, takes the inside centre jersey and captain’s armband for this game, with Ross Ford (national call-up) and both captain Mike Coman and vice captain Grant Gilchrist unavailable through injury.

The forward pack sees James Hilterbrand, who came off the bench last week to put in a performance at flanker, start at hooker, with Ben Toolis moving up to start at lock.

Called straight into the starting line-up at lock, after an impressive shift for Edinburgh A in the win over Ontario Blues on Monday night, is Heriot’s captain Jack Turley while academy back row, Magnus Bradbury, makes his senior debut on the blindside. Tomas Leonardi, who started last Friday’s match at number eight, moves to openside.

David Denton, who experienced more minutes on the field than anticipated on his return to action last Friday as he replaced the injured Hamish Watson, starts at number eight.

Meanwhile coming on to the bench are academy hooker Jake Kerr who, along with full time professional forwards Jamie Ritchie and George Turner, could win their debut senior caps.

“In all my years of coaching at professional level, I’ve never experienced an injury list like we have at present,” said Solomons.

“Eighteen players injured and two on national duty presents a huge challenge for the team, especially as we are playing last year’s champions, Leinster, at the RDS.

“It is an opportunity for many of our young players and will be a chance to see how they measure up at this early point in their careers.”

Form: Leinster’s only defeat in their last five matches in all competitions was to Munster at the Aviva Stadium in the Pro12 on 4th October. The Leinstermen are unbeaten in their last 22 fixtures at the RDS Arena, a run which includes 16 successive victories. Edinburgh have recorded three successive victories in all tournaments but have not won four in a row since season 2009/10. The Scotsmen’s only win in their last eight contests against Irish provinces was 14-13 in the opening round of the Pro12 at Munster. Edinburgh have won just one of their last seven encounters with Leinster: 11-6 at Murrayfield on 20th December 2013, whilst they have not triumphed on Leinster soil since a visit to Donnybrook in November 2005 making the home side the clear favourites with Rugby bookmakers.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Ben Te’o, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald , 10 Jimmy Gopperth , 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Kevin McLaughlin (c), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Tom Denton, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Michael Bent
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Peter Dooley, 19 Ben Marshall, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Mick McGrath

Edinburgh: 15 Nick McLennan, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Joaquin Dominguez, 12 Andries Strauss (capt), 11 Tim Visser, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 David Denton, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jack Turley, 4 Ben Toolie, 3 Willem Nel, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andres, 19 Jamie Ritchie, 20 George Turner, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Date: Friday, October 31
Venue: The RDS, Dublin
Kickoff: 19:35 local (GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Stuart Douglas (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)