Edinburgh Rugby will welcome the return of captain Greig Laidlaw this Sunday as they look to repeat last season’s away success against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park (6 October, kick-off 3.05pm South African Time). The 27-year-old scrum-half – who kicked the winning drop-goal on that day last year – has recovered from the knee injury that has kept him side-lined since the summer to make his first competitive outing of the season.
Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Alan Solomons, said: “It’s great to have Greig [Laidlaw] back in the side. We have two fine young scrum-halves in Sam [Hidlago-Clyne] and Sean [Kennedy] but Greig brings a lot of experience and leadership earned at an international level. I believe he will make a big difference to the team.”
From those pivotal positions, Laidlaw and Leonard will orchestrate a new-look backline, which sees wingers Tim Visser and Dougie Fife return from the head knocks they sustained against Ospreys a fortnight ago, and on-trial Argentine centre, Joaquin Dominguez, make his first start for the club after extending his loan spell earlier this week.
Minor injuries to Greig Tonks (hamstring) and Grant Gilchrist (hip) mean the pair are unavailable for the game, with the opportunity to start offered to Jack Cuthbert (full-back) and returning lock Sean Cox.
The remaining change to the starting side sees Argentine back-row Tomas Leonardi make his debut in place of the rested Roddy Grant while, on the bench, the club include Scotland centre Matt Scott for the first time this season, and new signing Cornell Du Preez, who checked in on Tuesday (2 October).
Solomons added: “Clearly this is going to be a tough game. Cardiff have all their British & Irish Lions back, and these are players who rank alongside the best in the world in their position. They’re a strong outfit with world class players, so it’s good to have some experience back in our team as we go down to Cardiff looking for a good performance.”
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 6 October (kick-off 2.05pm)
15 Jack Cuthbert; 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Joaquin Dominguez, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser; 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN; 1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Sean Cox, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 8 David Denton.
Substitutes:16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne