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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Edinburgh v Leinster

Leinster will have a number of returning Rugby World Cup players in their starting line-up when they resume their RaboDirect PRO12 challenge against Edinburgh on Friday night.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, October 28

EDINBURGH (11th) v LEINSTER (3rd), Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Murrayfield has been named.

Leo Cullen captains the side and is one of 10 Ireland internationals in the starting line-up, amongst them is hooker Sean Cronin who makes his full debut for the province.

Cronin starts in the front row alongside his Rugby World Cup colleague Mike Ross and South African Heinke van der Merwe.

Luke Fitzgerald will makes his 90 appearance for the province, moving to the left wing in a back-three which also includes brothers Rob and David Kearney.

Eoin O’Malley forms a centre partnership with the returning Fergus McFadden, with two more of Ireland’s World Cup squad members, Jonathan Sexton and Isaac Boss, linking up at half-back.

Fionn Carr joins the likes of Rhys Ruddock, Richardt Strauss and Steven Sykes on the replacements bench.

Scrum half Cillian Willis was not required to travel. His short term contract with Leinster has concluded, allowing him to play for Greystones in the Ulster Bank League this weekend.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh will start five of their returning Scotland internationals from the Rugby World Cup against Joe Schmidt’s Leinster side.

The returning players include Chris Paterson, the nation’s most capped player and record points scorer at full-back, centre Nick De Luca and the complete front row that started Scotland’s pool matches against Romania and Argentina – Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross.

Their reintroduction brings a potent mix of youth and experience to the black and red ranks as 20-year-old seasonal debutant Matt Scott retains his centre spot to partner De Luca for the first time, while Tim Visser and Simon Webster start out wide.

Captain Greig Laidlaw retains in the number 9 jersey and will line up alongside the 19-year-old Harry Leonard, who earns his first start for the club since debuting as a replacement against Aironi earlier this season.

Behind the front row sit Esteban Lozada and Steven Turnbull at lock, while David Denton, Roddy Grant and Stuart McInally start their fourth straight match together as a back row unit.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Simon Webster, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Harry Leonard, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Esteban Lozada, Steve Turnbull, Dave Denton, Roddy Grant, Stuart McInally.

Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Kyle Traynor, Lewis Niven, Grant Gilchrist, Netani Talei, Mike Blair, Jim Thompson, Tom Brown.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; David Kearney, Eoin O’Malley, Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Dominic Ryan, Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, Steven Sykes, Rhys Ruddock, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Fionn Carr.

Referee:  Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Archie McInally (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Iain Heard (Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 6/5; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 4/6

Pre-Match Quotes: Sean Cronin (Leinster) – “It’s very exciting to be back in the Leinster fold and to get back playing with your provincial team. It’s very exciting for me, hopefully selection going well I’ll be involved.

“If (selected) it’ll be huge for me. I just joined Leinster in the summer and preparation was a bit all over the place due to my involvement with Ireland in the World Cup.

“So it’s great to be getting back in the mix and getting used to new combinations with some of the lads. It’s hopefully going to be a good game at the weekend.

“We’re preparing for a very tough encounter, especially with the game being over in Edinburgh. In my opinion both sides play an exciting brand of rugby.

“Edinburgh bring their own fluency to the game, offloading, attacking, scoring lots of points, so it should be a great game at the weekend, weather depending.

“They had a slow start to the season but they’ve been coming good the last few games and I’m sure they’ll be highly motivated for the game on Friday night.”

Michael Bradley (Edinburgh) – “Playing at home is an advantage for us and we have the Rugby World Cup boys back, so it’s shaping up to be a very exciting game.

“They’re good professionals and are fully switched back into Edinburgh Rugby mode.

“There’s been a great buzz around training and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing them play against Leinster.

“Their return has increased the competition for places, particularly with a full international front row coming back, who should give us a good platform to launch our back-line and our back row who have performed well in a number of games so far this season.

“Like us, Leinster have a lot of quality players coming back so, while the timing is good for us, it’s also good for Leinster so I think it’ll be a great match.”

Top Scorers – 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12: Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 72; Tries: Tim Visser 3; Leinster – Points: Isa Nacewa 70; Tries: Ian Madigan 3


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
Saturday, October 30, 2010 – Leinster 19 Edinburgh 18, the RDS


– Edinburgh’s last five matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 have all been won by the home side on the day, while their only defeat at Murrayfield in their last six games was a 38-15 loss to the Cardiff Blues in round 1

– No Irish province has won at Murrayfield since Munster did so on September 10, 2010

– Leinster have won their last three RaboDirect PRO12 matches since their 23-19 reversal at home to Glasgow on September 17

– The Leinstermen have lost on their last three visits to Scotland

– Each side won its respective home game when they met last season. Leinster’s most recent victory at Murrayfield was in September 2009