Leinster make their seasonal bow on Friday night when they take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield, where the Gunners have lost three of their last four home games.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 8
EDINBURGH v LEINSTER, Murrayfield, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from Murrayfield**
Team News: Edinburgh have been boosted by the return of Craig Smith to their line-up for the visit of Leinster. The Scotland prop is the only change to the side for the Gunners' first home game of the Magners League - he replaces Alasdair Dickinson on the tighthead side of the scrum.
Scotland Under-21 centre Ben Cairns, who missed last week's 17-11 defeat at the Ospreys due to a dead leg, has been named amongst the replacements, ahead of Mike Pyke.
Leinster, for their first Magners League outing, will include six players who will be making their competitive debuts - centre Michael Berne, scrum half Chris Whitaker, hooker Harry Vermaas, locks Trevor Hogan and Owen Finegan and flanker Stephen Keogh.
Ireland 'A' centre Kieran Lewis will be picking up his 50th cap for the province on Friday night. Ireland Under-21 number 8 Sean O'Brien is linking up with the Leinster senior squad for the first time, while there are three vacancies in the panel currently. Ross McCarron and Luke Fitzgerald are vying for the number 11 jersey with whoever misses out dropping to the bench, while Johnny Wickham is on stand-by in case former skipper Reggie Corrigan fails to recover from a knock.
Edinburgh: Hugo Southwell; Chris Paterson (capt), Marcus Di Rollo, Rob Dewey, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Dougie Hall, Craig Smith, Matt Mustchin, Scott Murray, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, Allister Hogg.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Alasdair Dickinson, Fergus Pringle, David Callam, Greig Laidlaw, Duncan Hodge, Ben Cairns.
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Gary Brown, Kieran Lewis, Michael Berne, AN Other; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Chris Whitaker; Ronan McCormack, Harry Vermaas, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Owen Finegan, Stephen Keogh, Niall Ronan, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: AN Other, Bernard Jackman, Adam Byrnes, Sean O'Brien, Guy Easterby, Christian Warner, AN Other.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Touch Judges: Andy MacPherson, Alan Forest (both Scotland)
Coach Speak: Henry Edwards (Interim Coach - Edinburgh) - "We are looking for continuity from last week, and although we lost, we got some satisfaction coming away from the Liberty Stadium with a bonus point. We need to improve in certain areas and have worked hard on those in training this week.
"This is a great opportunity (for us) as Leinster are resting players, but we're not taking them lightly as they've recruited a lot of players over the summer and have a strong squad.
"It's our first home game and we are keen to win, for Edinburgh Rugby and for the fans, so we hope they get behind up at Murrayfield on Friday."
Michael Cheika (Leinster) - "It's important that we start the first part of the season strongly. We lost our first game of last season against the Ospreys and it's important that we improve. Thought we have introduced new players, the core of last year's squad is there. We're looking to lift our standards and we're conscious that we're a week behind the other teams so the basics or our game, as pro footballers, have got to be strong.
"Friday is going to be a tough game because Edinburgh are an aggresive side up front with a very smart back three. (Simon) Webster is a fast player who is always active and is a real threat. They have tested us before and the recent change of coaches will enable them to mix it up a bit."
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
September 2003 - Leinster 30 Edinburgh 33, Donnybrook
February 2004 - Edinburgh 40 Leinster 34, Murrayfield
October 2004 - Leinster 35 Edinburgh 13, Donnybrook
February 2005 - Edinburgh 41 Leinster 33, Murrayfield
November 2005 - Leinster 13 Edinburgh 27, Donnybrook
May 2006 - Edinburgh 8 Leinster 31, Murrayfield
- Edinburgh Gunners have now lost back-to-back league matches to the Dragons and Leinster, whilst the Gunners have won just one of their last four games at Murrayfield
- Leinster begin their Magners League campaign following a bye last weekend. Michael Cheika's men play in their fourth successive away match after concluding last season with three games on the road, although Leinster's only reversal in their last four outings was a 40-31 defeat to Cardiff Blues at the Millennium Stadium last May
- Edinburgh have the edge in previous league meetings between the two - achieving four wins to two - although both matches last season went the way of the away team on the day
- Leinster have scored a total of 21 tries in their previous six meetings with the Gunners. The Scots have bagged 23 in reply. Argentinian out-half Felipe Contepomi tallied up 16 points - with a try, four conversions and a penalty - on Leinster's last visit to the home of Scottish rugby
- Scotland winger Simon Webster will be a marked man on Friday - he has scored two tries in his last three appearances against Leinster, including one in Edinburgh's 27-13 triumph at Donnybrook last November