A much-changed Leinster side will go in search of their fifth straight win in all competitions when they entertain Edinburgh at the RDS. Revenge will also be on the minds of Joe Schmidt’s men after their recent defeat at Murrayfield.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, October 30
LEINSTER (6th) v EDINBURGH (7th), the RDS, 6.05pm (live RTE Two/BBC ALBA)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Saturday’s Magners League clash at the RDS 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.”
Meanwhile, Alex Blair will make his Edinburgh debut as the Scottish side bid for a season’s double over Leinster.
Blair, a member of the Scotland Sevens squad that competed in the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, will start at out-half alongside Mike, one of his elder brothers.
Edinburgh’s other Blair sibling, David, misses the trip to Dublin as a precaution after suffering a blow to the head during a midweek training session.
The Scots’ starting line-up shows six personnel changes in all. Apart from the switches at half-back, Ross Ford and Roddy Grant, both rested against Ulster, return at hooker and number 8 respectively, while John Houston and Alex Grove form a new centre pairing.
James King, who started at inside centre in the last two games, misses out after taking a blow to his knee in training, throwing the door open for Houston to make his first Edinburgh start of the season.
Scott Newlands, another member of the Scotland Sevens side, is named among the replacements, and will make his 50th Edinburgh appearance should he enter the fray.
Head coach Rob Moffat said: “I’ll be pleased for Scott when he hits that landmark, because he’s a player who works hard at his game and has never let us down.
“There’s a chance there for a number of guys this weekend to show why they should be featuring more regularly, and I’m sure they’ll all be raring to go.”
LEINSTER: 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.
EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Jim Thompson, Alex Grove, John Houston, Tim Visser; Alex Blair, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Scott MacLeod, Fraser McKenzie, Netani Talei, Ross Rennie, Roddy Grant (capt).
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, David Young, Esteban Lozada, Scott Newlands, Greig Laidlaw, David Bishop, Mark Robertson.
Referee: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Jude Quinn (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/3; Draw: 22/1; Edinburgh to win: 9/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Leinster) – “Shane (Horgan) has been really good for us especially in his ability to aerially dominate his area of the pitch. He has given us a bit of a platform when we have been stuck in our own half.
“He just tends to give us a second shot at the ball (possession), carries strongly and drags tacklers with him. Overall, I’d say that Shane Horgan has decided it’s not yet time to finish off in this game.
“Rhys (Ruddock) wasn’t available for the first couple of games because he was on the same international (pre-season) programme so he missed out.
“He played against Treviso but got a knock and then the Heineken Cup games followed on, so he didn’t have much opportunity.
“Dominic (Ryan) was available, got some game-time and he has had a fantastic start to the season. We’ll probably see what progress Rhys has made on Saturday, but certainly he’s a great young guy, he’s very keen, built to play the game and I think he will benefit from any experience he gets.
“He’s not worried about expectations (of others) because he has high expectations of himself; he has already been on a full Irish tour and has captained the Ireland Under-20s, so he has leadership potential.”
Rob Moffat (Edinburgh) – “I don’t like harking back too much to previous games, but the guys who were involved the last time we went to the RDS know they don’t want to end up with the same feeling again after the game.
“We played really well that day, but didn’t win, and in the end that’s what it’s all about. I was really happy with how we finished the job against Ulster (last time out), and I want to see us taking our chances even more ruthlessly this weekend.
“Leinster are always a really tough challenge, especially when they’re at home, but we’ve picked a team that we think is capable of going there and winning.
“I’ve watched Alex (Blair) develop over the last few seasons and on occasion this year with Melrose in Premier 1, and he’s a really exciting talent.
“He’ll have a lot of experience around him on Saturday and I’ve every faith he’ll show why we are so pleased to have him in our squad.”
Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Leinster – Points: Isa Nacewa 59; Tries: Isa Nacewa 3; Edinburgh – Points: Chris Paterson 42; Tries: Tim Visser 5
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, April 18, 2008 – Edinburgh 15 Leinster 13, Murrayfield
Friday, September 12, 2008 – Leinster 52 Edinburgh 6, the RDS
Friday, April 17, 2009 – Edinburgh 27 Leinster 16, Murrayfield
Saturday, September 26, 2009 – Edinburgh 19 Leinster 21, Murrayfield
Sunday, May 9, 2010 – Leinster 37 Edinburgh 28, the RDS
Friday, September 24, 2010 – Edinburgh 32 Leinster 24, Murrayfield
– Leinster have secured four straight wins in all competitions since their 32-24 loss to Edinburgh at Murrayfield in the Magners League on September 24
– The Leinstermen have not lost a regular season game at the RDS since Munster were the visitors in September 2008
– Edinburgh have won their last three games in the Magners League since a 29-21 defeat at Ulster in round 3
– The Scottish side’s only away win in their last eleven trips was a 10-9 victory at Aironi on October 2
– Edinburgh have not won in Dublin since a trip to Donnybrook in November 2005