The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Saturday’s Magners League clash at the RDS (kick-off 6.05pm) has been named.
The fit-again Leo Cullen leads the Leinster team for what will be his 140th appearance for his native province. He will partner Nathan Hines in the second row.
In all, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has made seven confirmed changes in personnel to the side that started last weekend’s 18-6 interprovincial derby win over Connacht.
There could be an eighth with new signing Clint Newland from New Zealand a possible starter at tighthead prop.
Dominic Ryan, fresh from his late try in that victory in Galway, starts in the back row alongside Shane Jennings and the recalled Stephen Keogh. Heinke van der Merwe comes in for the Ireland-tied Cian Healy in the front row.
In the back-line, winger Shane Horgan will make his 189th appearance for the province and the Boyne man forms an exciting looking back-three with Isa Nacewa and Andrew Conway. Nacewa switches to full-back, covering for Rob Kearney who has international commitments.
And with the likes Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan also preparing for the GUINNESS Series with Ireland, Ian Madigan and Paul O’Donohoe get a chance to impress at half-back.
In a further boost for Schmidt’s charges, Shaun Berne takes his place amongst the replacements for the first time since May. Ireland internationals Isaac Boss and Rhys Ruddock are also in line for game-time off the bench.
Leinster lost 32-24 to Edinburgh at Murrayfield last month, but Schmidt is quietly confident that his side can turn that result around.
“We’ve conceded just two tries in the last four games, we have a bit more steel about our defence,” he said.
“But the word of warning is that we conceded four tries to Edinburgh last time and that’s something we have worked pretty hard on to avoid happening again.
“The way Edinburgh play, they certainly try to open up the game and their last Heineken Cup fixture against Northampton was certainly a great game of footy.
“If they do get to accelerate the ball they get, they’re very effective at offloading and creating chances.”
There will be a specially themed ‘Halloween Thriller’ in store for young and old supporters at the RDS this Saturday evening with a fancy dress competition, ‘House of Horrors’, trick or treating and fun and games for all the family.
Ticket sales have already passed the 16,200 mark and are still on sale from www.leinsterrugby.ie, Spar (Donnybrook) and the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook) as well as from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.
LEINSTER (v Edinburgh): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Eoin O’Malley, Fergus McFadden, Andrew Conway; Ian Madigan, Paul O’Donohoe; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Clint Newland/Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Nathan Hines, Dominic Ryan, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh.
Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Jack McGrath, Simon Shawe, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Isaac Boss, Shaun Berne, David Kearney.