Depleted Leinster can still call on experienced squad for Edinburgh

Despite being short 17 players following World Cup squad announcements, Leo Cullen is able to call on plenty of experience for his opening Guinness Pro12 encounter as head coach of Leinster against Edinburgh in Meggetland tonight (7.35pm).

The Blues have 16 representatives in Joe Schmidt’s 31-man selection, and with Zane Kirchner also receiving the nod in South Africa’s final squad, Cullen’s hand will be forced in the opening weeks of the new campaign.

However, he is able to call upon the services of Michael Bent, Jack Conan, Fergus McFadden, Noel Reid and Isaac Boss after their recent release from Ireland’s World Cup training camp.

The return of Isa Nacewa from retirement has also been a huge boost for Leinster, and with blindside flanker Kevin McLaughlin taking on the captaincy role on his 115th appearance for the province, they will be aiming to record their fourth consecutive victory over the Scottish outfit - who are losing nine players for the upcoming World Cup period.

This is also an ideal opportunity for the squad’s fringe performers, and even though he is entering his sixth season as a Leinster player, hooker Aaron Dundon is aware that there is still a healthy competition for places.

The 33-year-old New Zealander will be joined by Bent and Jamie Hagan in the front-row, and in addition to Cathal Marsh making his first start at out-half, replacements Royce Burke-Flynn, Ross Byrne and Garry Ringrose are all in line to make their competitive debuts.

EDINBURGH:

J Cuthbert; D Fife, C Dean, S Beard, D Hoyland; P Burleigh, N Fowles; R Sutherland, N Cochrane, J Andress; A Bresler, B Toolis; C Du Preez, R Grant, N Manu.

LEINSTER:

I Nacewa; F McFadden, B Te’o, N Reid, D Fanning; C Marsh, L McGrath; M Bent, A Dundon, J Hagan; T Denton, M McCarthy; K McLaughlin, D Leavy, J Conan.

Replacements:

B Byrne, P Dooley, R Burke-Flynn, R Molony, D Ryan, I Boss, R Byrne, G Ringrose.


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