Since losing to Munster earlier in the month, Leinster have chalked up three successive wins and they look well-equipped to make it four on the bounce at home to Edinburgh on Halloween night.
GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, October 31
LEINSTER (6th) v EDINBURGH (8th), the RDS, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Kevin McLaughlin returns after a knee injury to captain Leinster from the back row, in one of eight changes to the team that beat Castres Olympique away in the European Champions Cup last weekend. He last featured in early September in the round 2 win over the Scarlets at the RDS.
Michael Bent once again starts in the front row, but swaps sides to loosehead with Tadhg Furlong coming in at tighthead prop. Richardt Strauss starts at hooker as he closes is on 100 caps for Leinster.
Tom Denton makes his first start of the year in the second row with Wallaby Kane Douglas retained beside him.
Dominic Ryan once again selected at openside flanker and Jack Conan lines out at number 8 for his fifth appearance of the season.
There are three changes in the backs but both wingers, Darragh Fanning on the right and Luke Fitzgerald on the left, are retained along with full-back Zane Kirchner.
However, there is a new centre partnership for the province with Noel Reid selected at inside centre and newcomer Ben Te’o (pictured below) selected outside him for his senior debut. He played all 80 minutes last weekend for the Leinster ‘A’ team in their British & Irish Cup match against Carmarthen Quins.
The final change is in the half-backs as Luke McGrath gets the nod at scrum half with Jimmy Gopperth outside him in the number 10 jersey.
There are tickets still available for the game at www.leinsterrugby.ie/tickets and Leinster supporters are invited to visit the Haunted House where there will be tricks and treats for all concerned! Gates open at 6.05pm with kick-off at 7.35pm.
Meanwhile, a combination of last Friday’s staggering injury count against Lyon coupled with this week’s Scotland squad duty sees teen enforced changes to the Edinburgh team to play Leinster at the RDS.
In the backs, Nick McLennan and Joaquin Dominguez are promoted from the bench to start at full-back and outside centre respectively, while Dougie Fife – a late injury withdrawal for the Lyon game – returns on the right wing.
Andries Strauss, also withdrawn late through injury last Friday, takes the number 12 jersey and the captain’s armband for the round 7 trip to Dublin, with Ross Ford, who is with the Scotland squad, and injured captain Mike Coman and vice-captain Grant Gilchrist all unavailable.
The starting pack sees James Hilterbrand, who came off the bench last week to put in a performance at flanker, line out at hooker this time with Ben Toolis moving up to start at lock.
Called straight into the starting line-up at lock after an impressive shift for Edinburgh ‘A’ against Ontario Blues on Monday, is BT Premiership leaders Heriot’s captain Jack Turley.
Edinburgh’s BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy back rower Magnus Bradbury makes his senior debut on the blindside. Tomas Leonardi, who started last Friday’s match at number 8, moves to openside flanker.
David Denton, who experienced more minutes on the pitch than anticipated on his return to action last Friday as he replaced the injured Hamish Watson, will anchor the Scots’ scrum.
Coming on to the bench are BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy hooker Jake Kerr and full-time professional forwards Jamie Ritchie and George Turner. The trio could win their first Edinburgh senior caps.
LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Darragh Fanning, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath; Michael Bent, Richardt Strauss, Tadhg Furlong, Tom Denton, Kane Douglas, Kevin McLaughlin (capt), Dominic Ryan, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Peter Dooley, Ben Marshall, Dan Leavy, Isaac Boss, Steve Crosbie, Mick McGrath.
EDINBURGH: Nick McLennan; Dougie Fife, Joaquin Dominguez, Andries Strauss (capt), Tim Visser; Tom Heathcote, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Allan Fell, James Hilterbrand, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Jack Turley, Magnus Bradbury, Tomas Leonardi, David Denton.
Replacements: Jake Kerr, Rory Sutherland, John Andress, Jamie Ritchie, George Turner, Sean Kennedy, Greig Tonks, Jack Cuthbert.
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Stuart Douglas (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/25; Draw: 50/1; Edinburgh to win: 9/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Marco Caputo (Leinster) – “Ben (Te’o) has gone from playing in front of 80,000 at ANZ Stadium to playing for an ‘A’ team in Wales with eight people and a dog! He’ll get a taste of the real stuff against Edinburgh.
“We wanted someone to come in to take up the position left by Brian O’Driscoll and we wanted someone with a physical presence. When you look at Ben, he ticks all the boxes.
“When he gets the ball we want him to take on the line. He rarely gets beaten in contact. O’Driscoll is an iconic player. We don’t want Ben to be Brian O’Driscoll, we just want him to be a handful.”
Alan Solomons (Edinburgh) – “In all my years of coaching at professional level, I’ve never experienced an injury list like we have at present. Eighteen players injured and two on national duty presents a huge challenge for the team, especially as we are playing last year’s champions at the RDS.
“It is an opportunity for many of our young players and will be a chance to see how they measure up at this early point in their careers.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 77; Tries: Ian Madigan 3; Edinburgh – Points: Tom Heathcote 49; Tries: Tim Visser 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, October 28, 2011 – Edinburgh 28 Leinster 36, Murrayfield
Friday, April 13, 2012 – Leinster 54 Edinburgh 13, the RDS
Saturday, September 22, 2012 – Leinster 22 Edinburgh 16, the RDS
Friday, January 4, 2013 – Edinburgh 16 Leinster 31, Murrayfield
Friday, December 20, 2013 – Edinburgh 11 Leinster 6, Murrayfield
Saturday, May 10, 2014 – Leinster 15 Edinburgh 13, the RDS
– Leinster’s only defeat in their last five matches in all competitions was to Munster at the Aviva Stadium in the GUINNESS PRO12 on October 4
– The Leinstermen are unbeaten in their last 22 fixtures at the RDS, a run which includes 16 successive victories
– Edinburgh have recorded three successive victories in all competitions but have not won four in-a-row since the 2009/10 season
– The Scotsmen’s only win in their last eight contests against Irish provinces was 14-13 in the opening round of the PRO12 at Munster
– Edinburgh have won just one of their last seven encounters with Leinster: 11-6 at BT Murrayfield on December 20, 2013, while they have not triumphed on Leinster soil since a visit to Donnybrook in November 2005