Preview: Edinburgh v Munster

Date published: February 2 2017

Edinburgh head coach Duncan Hodge has made six changes to his starting XV for Friday's encounter with Munster at a sold-out Myreside.

Among the changes to the pack is John Hardie, who returns to the side for the first time since undergoing corrective surgery on an ankle injury sustained in Scotland’s 2016 Autumn Test against Australia.

Hodge has made two further amendments to the pack with Jack Cosgrove and Murray McCallum set to start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.

In the backline, scrum-half Sean Kennedy and fly-half Jason Tovey enter the fray, while Phil Burleigh returns to start at inside centre.

Hodge, said: “We’re looking forward to heading back to a packed house at Myreside on our return to league duties.

“Munster are an outfit heading to Edinburgh on fine form and with a chance of going top of the table, but we’ve also hit a fine vein of form in recent times which gives us a lot of confidence going into the game.

“We’ve got a good blend of youth and experience throughout the squad – with a lot of settled looking combinations – and a team who will want to play an up-tempo and attacking brand of rugby.”

Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Tom Brown continue in a settled back-three combination, while Chris Dean moves to outside centre to accommodate for the incoming Burleigh.

Neil Cochrane will captain the side and accompany Cosgrove and McCallum in the front-row, with Ben Toolis and Fraser McKenzie packing down at lock.

Hardie is joined in the back-row by blindside flanker Magnus Bradbury and number eight Cornell Du Preez.

Meanwhile, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has named a much changed run-on side for this rescheduled fixture with no less than 11 changes to the side the defeated Racing 92 in the Champions Cup in Thomond Park less than a fortnight ago.

With four changes to the back-line, Calvin Nash, in his first year of the academy, will make his debut starting on the wing after a string of impressive performances with Munster A and his club side Young Munster. 

Fellow academy player and club-mate Dan Goggin renews his midfield partnership with Francis Saili after the pair last started against Connacht in December.

Duncan Williams is introduced at scrum-half joining number 10 Tyler Bleyendaal who will captain the province for the first time, while another first sees Jaco Taute make the positional switch to full-back.

In the forwards, lock Jean Kleyn is the only player to retain this place this week and he is joined in the engine room by Dave Foley who has overcome a wrist injury to start.

In an all new front row Peter McCabe makes his first start for the province joining hooker Rhys Marshall and tighthead prop Stephen Archer on his 100th PRO12 appearance. Following injury to James Cronin, McCabe returned to the province after a short loan spell with Connacht.

Similarly there is a new look back row for this encounter with Dave O'Callaghan, the academy's Conor Oliver and Jack O'Donoghue all introduced.

Returning from Irish camp this weekend Dave Kilcoyne, Billy Holland, Tommy O'Donnell and Rory Scannell have all been named in the replacements.

Form: This game was postponed from 7 January to facilitate the rearrangement of Munster’s European Champions Cup game against Racing in Paris. Edinburgh Rugby ended a three game losing run in the Guinness PRO12 with their 24-19 victory against Zebre in Parma on New Year’s Eve. This game will be only the fifth to be played at Myreside in PRO12 history, the most recent of which was a 24-16 Edinburgh victory over Ospreys in February 2015. Munster have won their last six Guinness PRO12 matches with three of those earning a try bonus point since their 14-25 reversal to Leinster at Aviva Stadium on 8 October. The Munstermen’ s only loss on their last four visits to Scotland in the Championship was 24-27 to Glasgow Warriors in Kilmarnock in February 2016. Munster have lost only one of their last ten encounters with Edinburgh in the PRO12, and that by a solitary point in Limerick in the opening round of the 2014/15 campaign. Munster have visited Myreside once before winning 25-22 in Pool B of the old Celtic League in August 2001.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 John Hardie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Neil Cochrane (c), 1 Jack Cosgrove
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Nick Beavon, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Rory Scholes

Munster: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal (c), 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Dave Foley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Peter McCabe
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O'Shea, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Tommy O'Donnell, 22 Angus Lloyd, 23 Rory Scannell

Date: Friday, February 3
Venue: Myreside
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 33rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (WRU), Dunx McClement (SRU)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (WRU)