ANDREW Davidson returns from injury to take his place at lock in the Edinburgh side to face Leinster tomorrow night – the only change made by head coach Richard Cockerill from the team that began last week’s 18-0 win over Cardiff. Jamie Hodgson drops down to the bench to accommodate Davidson, and Marshall Sykes is left out of the 23.
There is only one other change to the replacements, with flanker Rory Darge coming in for a potential debut in place of Connor Boyle. Cockerill’s room for manoeuvre when it comes to selection remains restricted in any case, as 22 members of his squad continue to be unavailable because of international duties, injury or isolation.
That impressive victory against the Blues last Monday followed the hard-fought win at Scarlets, and took Edinburgh up to fourth in PRO14 Conference B. It will be approaching a minor miracle, however, if they win tonight against a Leinster side who have maximum points in Conference A and whose long unbeaten run in the competition now stretches back to April 2019 when they lost 14-13 to Ulster.
“We’ve won two in a row with back-to-back gritty performances and we’ve been really pleased with how this young squad have stepped up to the mark in recent weeks,” Cockerill said. “We now face a massive test against an unbeaten Leinster side, so we’ve got to use that confidence gained in those wins over Scarlets and Cardiff and make sure we’re bold and decisive in everything that we do.
“Leinster are the reigning league champions for a reason. However, we’re improving every week and excited for the challenge that awaits us on Monday night.”
Twelve players remain on Scotland duty, while Mesu Kunavula is with the Fiji squad. Jaco van der Walt is still quarantining following his return from South Africa, and eight others are unavailable because of injury: Lewis Carmichael, Grant Gilchrist, Matt Gordon, Damien Hoyland, Bill Mata, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie and George Taylor.
Edinburgh (v Leinster at the RDS, Monday 8.15pm): J Blain; E Sau, M Bennett, C Dean, J Farndale; N Chamberlain, H Pyrgos (captain); P Schoeman, D Cherry, L Atalifo, A Ferreira, A Davidson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie, A Miller. Substitutes: M Willemse, S Grahamslaw, D Gamble, J Hodgson, R Darge, N Groom, C Shiel, J Johnstone.
Leinster: J O’Brien; C Kelleher, L Turner, C Frawley, D Kearney; H Byrne, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, M Bent, D Toner, S Fardy, D Leavy, S Penny, R Ruddock (captain). Substitutes: D Sheehan, M Milne, C Parker, R Molony, J Murphy, H O’Sullivan, D Hawkshaw, R Baird.
Referee: C Evans (Wales).