Planet Rugby

Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

19th December 2013 11:06


Edinburgh s Dave Denton is tackled pro12 2012

New deal: Dave Denton

Edinburgh welcome a trio of Scotland internationalists back into the fold for Friday's Pro12 return against Leinster at Murrayfield.

Captain Greig Laidlaw, centre Nick De Luca and newly re-signed number 8, David Denton - who all missed Sunday's Heineken Cup away win over Gloucester - will start the match, while several of the Sunday's successful exponents have retained their place.

"Rotation is always very important and, with so many big games in such a short space of time, it becomes absolutely vital," said head coach Alan Solomons.

"We have begun to use the squad more effectively and are now able to bring fresh players back in for this game, which I think is a positive for the team.

"These players are freshened up and are really keen to play.

"They obviously would have loved to have been part of Sunday's win, but now they have a fantastic opportunity to contribute in a big game for us.

"We appreciate that Leinster are one of, if not the top side in Europe, so it presents a massive challenge to which we are really looking forward."

Greig Tonks, a late positional change against Gloucester, retains his place at fly-half; Jack Cuthbert, Tom Brown and Dougie Fife are reinstated as the back-three, while try-scorer Ben Atiga partners the returning De Luca in midfield.

Similarly, man-of-the-match winner Roddy Grant retains the open-side berth alongside Denton and the increasingly ever-present blind-side, Cornell Du Preez.

The pack changes are completed by lock Ollie Atkins and prop Alasdair Dickinson, who come off the bench in place of injured lock Izak van der Westhuizen (groin strain) and Wicus Blaauw, who moves to the bench.

Another notable inclusion is the selection of former Hawke's Bay captain and number eight Mike Coman and on-loan fly-half Tony Fenner, who could make their club debuts if called upon from the bench.

Meanwhile, Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has made a number of changes to the starting XV from that selected last weekend against Northampton Saints.

Isaac Boss is included for the first time in several weeks having recovered sufficiently from a hamstring injury and he partners Ian Madigan in the half-backs, who has been selected at fly-half once again.

Luke Fitzgerald and Brian O'Driscoll are also retained from last weeks starting 15, with Zane Kirchner promoted from the bench. Noel Reid and Darragh Fanning also come into the side, Fanning after playing for the Leinster 'A' team in their fine win over Cross Keys last weekend.

There is a completely new pack selected to that selected to start against Northampton last weekend, with Leo Cullen captaining the side. Shane Jennings who was a late replacement for Sean O'Brien in that fixture has retained his place and he is joined in the back row by Kevin Mclaughlin and Jordi Murphy at number eight.

Form: Edinburgh have won four of their last six games in all competitions, whilst at home in the RaboDirect PRO12 they have been defeated only once since April: 9-22 to the Scarlets in round 4. The Scotsmen's' only defeat to an Irish Province at Murrayfield in their last four such matches was 24-32 to Connacht on 12th April. Leinster's 9-18 European Cup loss to Northampton on Saturday at Aviva Stadium ended a seven game winning run in all competitions. Away from home the Leinstermen have won their last four encounters since their 15-19 reversal to Munster at Thomond Park in the PRO12 on 5th October. Leinster have already been defeated in Scotland this season going down 6-12 to Glasgow at Scotstoun on 20th September. Leinster have won their last five fixtures with Edinburgh, whilst the Scotsmen's only win in their last eight contests with the Irish Province since 2009 was 32-24 at Murrayfield in September 2010.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Mike Coman, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Tony Fenner, 23 Sam Beard

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Tom Denton, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Martin Moore, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Michael Bent
Replacments: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Brendan Macken

Date: Friday, December 20
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Andrew McMenemy, TBC (both SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Iain Goodall (SRU)
TMO: Iain Ramage (SRU)

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