Planet Rugby

Preview: Edinburgh v Racing Métro

13th December 2012 09:05

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In the side: Ben Cairns

Edinburgh welcome the return of four capped internationalists for Friday's Heineken Cup Pool One fixture against Racing Métro at Murrayfield.

Ben Cairns (Scotland), Ben Atiga (New Zealand) and Netani Talei (Fiji) will all start the match, while Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) is on the bench.

The match will be the first outing since October for the overseas trio while Cairns has been absent since a pre-season match against Sale in 2011.

He launched his long-awaited comeback for Melrose last weekend and will add to his 110 appearances for Edinburgh as one as eight changes to the side.

With Racing the last match before the crucial back-to-back 1872 Cup derby matches with city rivals, Glasgow Warriors, head coach Michael Bradley welcomed the selection headache.

"We're delighted to welcome the timely return of these four players from injury, all of whom have the potential to make a significant contribution to our Heineken Cup and RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns at a crucial period in the season," he said.

"It's important that they get up to speed as quickly as possible and put pressure on their peers for a place in the playing squad in some massive games coming up in the next two months.

"The two Bens [Cairns and Atiga] in the centre offer a new and exciting partnership, while their availability means we now have a number of midfield combinations available going forward.

"The return of these players adds a significant level of competition for places and, in the case of Dimitri [Basilaia] and Netani [Talei], an up-weighted physicality, which is welcome against such a combative side as Racing Metro.

"All of these players are straining at the leash, are desperate to get a win for Edinburgh Rugby and to put in a performance worthy of reselection."

Full-back Greig Tonks is the only reselected back as Lee Jones and Dougie Fife come in for the injured Tom Brown (knee) and Tim Visser, on the wings.

Piers Francis has been handed his first start at fly-half after a competent debut off the bench in Paris last weekend and will partner in-bound scrum-half Chris Leck.

The final change comes in the pack as Robert McAlpine replaces Sean Cox to join forces with his former Scotland age-grade colleague, Grant Gilchrist, in the second-row.

Meanwhile, Racing have opted to leave Argentina playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez on the bench for a game that, should they win, would see them move temporarily top of the Pool.

Former England international back Olly Barkley remains at fly-half for the Paris side while Bernard Le Roux comes into the side at flank for absent number eight Masi Matadigo.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Dougie Fife, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Robert McAlpine, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Sep Visser.

Racing Métro: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Sereli Bobo, 13 Guillaume Bousses, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Sebastien Descons, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Antoine Batut, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 20 Mathieu Belie, 21 Juan Martin Hernandez, 22 Fabrice Estebanez, 23 Alvaro Galindo.

Date: Friday, December 14
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 20.00 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips

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