Head coach Michael Bradley today named the Edinburgh Rugby team charged with producing the ten-point win needed to lift the 1872 Cup at Murrayfield this Saturday (kick-off 4.05pm) – live on BBC ALBA.
The Warriors placed one hand on the intercity trophy (decided by the aggregate score from the two festive derbies at opposite ends of the M8) with a 23-14 victory at Scotstoun last weekend, earning them a nine-point cushion with which to retain the trophy.
Setting aside the fight for silverware, RaboDirect PRO12 points are paramount for the hosts as they seek to atone for the defeat and progress up the table before the push for play-off places intensifies in the New Year.
With a win the ‘need’, and a ten-point win the ‘want’, there are few who would doubt a blazing start is required from the home side.
Head coach Michael Bradley said: “This a hugely important game for us, with PRO12 points, intercity rivalry and, of course, the 1872 Cup all wrapped up in the deciding derby clash between the two clubs.
“We need a good start, we need to get the tempo up and keep it there, move the ball, move our opponents, create space and punish any vacancies.
“The challenge will be to do that against one of the most shrewd and stingy defences in the division, and one which has added an extra level of attacking nous to their armoury, which we saw in full flow last weekend, in part thanks to a number of defensive lapses on our part."
Five of the six changes made have been promoted from the bench from last weekend’s loss, four of which are enforced through injury.
The introduction of 22-year-old wing Dougie Fife for the injured Lee Jones (ribs) is the only alteration to the back-line, which will once again feature half-backs Greig Laidlaw and last weekend’s try-scorer Piers Francis, a midfield partnership of James King and Matt Scott, as well as Greig Tonks and Tim Visser in the back three.
Visser is second only to Ulsterman Tommy Bowe in the league’s all-time top try-scoring charts, and would undoubtedly welcome the opportunity to celebrate the landmark at the expense of the club’s biggest rivals.
The remaining five alterations have been made to a new look pack.
Allan Jacobsen, who was originally named to start in Scotstoun but withdrawn due to illness on the day, will start as one third of an all-new front-row as he, Andy Titterrell and Geoff Cross replace the injured John Yapp (knee), Ross Ford (shoulder) and Willem Nel, who will start on the bench if fit.
The ankle injury sustained by lock Izak van der Westhuizen sees him replaced by vice-captain Sean Cox, who reforms a familiar partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the second-row.
Fiji captain Netani Talei is the last alteration to the team. He replaces Stuart McInally at number 8 to join Roddy Grant and David Denton in the back-row.
Bradley added: “Needless to say that a match up between the nation’s two professional clubs, which are packed with the country’s leading international players, carries a lot of significance to Scottish fans.
“You can feel and feed off the passion for this derby coming through all the players from whom we require a much more cohesive performance as we aim to first establish and protect a lead, and second to target the ten-point cushion needed to secure the 1872 Cup.
“Derbies are special occasions and all of our supporters, players and management are very much on song in terms of believing that it’s about time we won this cup.
“It will be another ferocious contest and the support of our home fans will be vital to our efforts, as we go all out from start to finish.
“The fans will play a huge part on Saturday. With 140 years of history, there’s a lot at stake and we need their vocal support to get across the line.”
The vacated places on the bench are taken by returning hooker Steven Lawrie, who makes his appearance in an Edinburgh squad since December 2011, Robin Hislop (prop) Lewis Niven/Willem Nel (prop), Perry Parker (lock), Dimitri Basilaia (back-row), and Sep Visser (wing).
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 29 December (kick-off 4.05pm) – live on BBC ALBA
15 Greig Tonks
14 Dougie Fife
13 Matt Scott
12 James King
11 Tim Visser
10 Piers Francis
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN
1 Allan Jacobsen
2 Andy Titterrell
3 Geoff Cross
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Sean Cox
6 David Denton
7 Roddy Grant
8 Netani Talei
16 Steven Lawrie
17 Robin Hislop
18 Lewis Niven/Willem Nel
19 Perry Parker
20 Dimitri Basilaia
21 Richie Rees
22 Ben Atiga
23 Sep Visser
Absent through injury: Tom Brown (knee), Ben Cairns (hamstring strain), Nick De Luca (face), Lee Jones (ribs), Jamie Farndale (leg), Ross Ford (shoulder), Ross Rennie (shoulder), Steven Turnbull (knee), George Turner (hip), Izak van der Westhuizen (ankle), John Yapp (knee).