Planet Rugby

Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

03rd January 2013 12:39

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Rob Kearney Cian Healy Leinster Heineken Cup semi-final v Clermont

Rob Kearney: Back from injury

Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Brian O'Driscoll have recovered from injury and included in Leinster's starting XV to face Edinburgh in their PRO12 clash at Murrayfield on Friday.

Kearney - who will make his 122nd appearance for the province - is named in a pacy-looking back three alongside Fitzgerald and Fionn Carr, with O'Driscoll linking up in midfield with Gordon D'Arcy.

Eoin Reddan, who is set to make his 75th Leinster appearance, partners Jonathan Sexton at half back.

Leo Cullen leads an all Ireland qualified starting XV which includes the likes of Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien in the pack.

Shane Jennings has recovered from illness to take his place on the replacements bench alongside fellow Ireland internationals Michael Bent and Isaac Boss.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh view the match as the first opportunity for them to atone for a tough end to 2012, which saw them endure four losses in all competitions.

The one change to their back-line sees Kiwi centre Ben Atiga start his first match since injuring his knee in October, to partner Matt Scott in midfield.

Willem Nel has recovered from the hamstring strain that ruled him out of last weekend's loss to Glasgow Warriors, and is preferred to Geoff Cross at tight-head prop in an otherwise unchanged tight-five.

Stuart McInally returns to the fold on the blind-side flank with David Denton [pictured] offered a start at number 8, the position at which he has earned all nine of his Scotland caps to date.

The introduction of Georgian internationalist, Dimitri Basilaia, completes a phyiscal, ball-carrying back-row, with his second start since arriving at the club in the summer.

Head coach, Michael Bradley knows a difficult task awaits his troops.

"The competitiveness of the PRO12 is exceptional, and there are few tougher challenges than hosting the current European champions," he said.

"However, while we have a lot of respect of Leinster, we don't fear them and we are fully focused on kick starting the New Year at home after a tough December.

"We ran them close in Dublin earlier in the season and are looking forward to having another crack at them at home tomorrow night at Murrayfield."

Form: Edinburgh have lost their last four matches in all competitions, whilst their only victory in their last six matches at Murrayfield was 23-13 over Ospreys in the PRO12 on 23 November. Leinster's three game losing run in all tournaments ended with their 17-0 victory over Connacht at the RDS on Saturday evening. The Leinstermen have not been defeated by a Scottish side since Glasgow Warriors beat them 23-19 at the RDS on 17 September 2011. Leinster have won their last four encounters with Edinburgh, and have won on three of their last four visits to Murrayfield, including the 2009 European Cup final triumph over Leicester.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 Dimitri Basilaia, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Richie Rees, 22 James King, 23 Sep Visser.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan,8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (c) 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Andrew Conway.

Date: Friday, January 4
Kick-off: 19:35
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Bob Nevins (both SRU)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (SRU)

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