RaboDirect Pro12: Friday preview with changes for Leinster v Dragons
Last Updated: November 1, 2013 10:04pm
Matt O'Connor: Wholesale change for Leinster game
Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has made a whopping 11 changes to his starting XV for Friday's RaboDirect Pro12 clash against the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Springbok international Zane Kirchner will make his first start for the province after coming on as a replacement in the win over Connacht last weekend.
Kirchner is named to start at full-back in a back three which includes the fit again Lote Tuqiri and Darragh Fanning. Luke Fitzgerald, one of four Ireland internationals in the starting line-up, continues his midfield partnership with Noel Reid, while there are recalls for Jimmy Gopperth and scrum-half John Cooney, who makes his 24th appearance for the province.
Shane Jennings leads the team and the experienced back-rower is named alongside Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan, who is set to appear in Leinster colours for the 51st time. Michael Bent switches to loosehead in a front row which also includes Aaron Dundon and Martin Moore who trained with the Ireland squad earlier this week.
The bench includes seven players who have either graduated or are current products of the Leinster academy including Wexford-born prop Tadhg Furlong.
Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones has also rung the changes with eight switches to his starting XV including outside centre Pat Leach, who returns after spending almost seven weeks out with an elbow injury.
The back five also sees a change in full-back with Hallam Amos moving there from the wing, leaving it to Adam Hughes to tackle the number 11 jersey and Tom Prydie stays on the right wing. After recovering from concussion, Jason Tovey returns to fly-half and Richie Rees keeps his place as scrum-half.
Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has named a much-changed side to take on Zebre, as they again welcome Italian opposition to Murrayfield after beating Treviso last time out.
The Murrayfield men have won three of their last four games at home in all competitions, and hope to complete the second part of an Italian double in the capital.
A combination of injuries and international selection for the forthcoming November internationals has enforced eight changes to the team that started last weekend's win over Treviso (20-13).
Aleki Lutui (hooker), Tomas Leonardi (back-row) and Wicus Blaauw (prop) start in place of international trio Ross Ford, David Denton and Alasdair Dickinson, with the latter released from Scotland camp to appear on the bench.
Back-row Roddy Grant - absent from last week's win to be present at the birth of his daughter - starts in place of the injured Dimitri Basilaia (head knock) and will captain the side.
In the backs, Ben Atiga, Joaquin Dominguez (centres), Sean Kennedy (scrum-half) and Jack Cuthbert (wing) step in for Scotland quartet Matt Scott, Nick De Luca, Greig Laidlaw and injured winger Tim Visser (leg).
The selection of lock Izak van der Westhuizen is the only tactical change to the team, with Sean Cox starting on the bench, while other notable inclusions see back-row Ross Rennie return from a shoulder injury and new signing Sam Beard (centre) available to make his debut as a replacement.
Zebre were denied their first home win in the RaboDirect PRO12 in the last play of the game against Scarlets last weekend (16-16), and will look to build on their success away to Cardiff earlier this season.