Greig Laidlaw will captain a new-look Edinburgh side for the trip to Magners League champions Munster on Friday evening (19 February, kick off 8pm, live on Setanta Ireland) and head coach Rob Moffat believes the scrum-half has the right skill-set to lead the side to a positive result.
Laidlaw, 24, signed a new two year contract with Edinburgh on Monday and has been rewarded with the captaincy for the trip to Cork to face the tournament title holders.
Moffat says that his elevation to captain was a logical choice and will lead to a seamless transition should replacement Mike Blair be introduced into the action during the game.
Moffat said: "Greig is playing consistently well and I think he is a natural leader.
"At scrum half, he is in a good position to captain the side and, with Mike on the bench, it means if we make the change then there is a straight swap."
Laidlaw forms a half-back combination with David Blair, who makes his first appearance for Edinburgh since damaging his ankle against Bath in December.
National Academy stand-off Rory Hutton, who made his Edinburgh debut against Cardiff last month, is named amongst the replacements and Moffat says both playmakers have overcome injury problems to be selected.
He added: "Both David and Rory haven’t had the easiest times recently. David hasn’t played for a while, but he has trained for the past couple of weeks and Rory has been recovering from a broken finger.
"So David starts for the first time since he was man-of-the-match against Scarlets with Rory on the bench and we saw what he can do against Cardiff."
Moffat says he is pleased to be able to field lock Jim Hamilton for the match at Musgrave Park – even though the big forward featured for 70 minutes for Scotland against Wales.
He said: "I think it is right for Jim to play because he hasn’t played a lot of rugby so far this season. We are delighted he is available and I’m sure he will make an impact.
"Another game under his belt will stand Jim in good stead for Scotland when the Six Nations programme restarts."
Edinburgh’s back three has been reshuffled with Ben Cairns required to occupy the full-back berth with both Jim Thompson (knee) and Chris Paterson (kidney) ruled out.
Moffat says he is excited about the challenge ahead and believes Edinburgh’s journey towards the Grand Final starts in Cork.
He said: "Now with just seven matches remaining before the play-offs, it is imperative that we get as much as we can from every game and we are looking forward to the challenge of facing Munster.
"We know just how strong Munster are – both home and away – so it will be a thorough test for our players and one we will be prepared for."
Vice captain Allister Hogg is still expected to be out for a few months after undergoing surgery to repair a hip problem at Spire Murrayfield Hospital in December.
Stand off Phil Godman (head knock) and hooker Sean Crombie (ankle) are unavailable for selection.
Both versatile back Thompson and flanker Ross Rennie are recovering from minor knee injuries while Scott Newlands (eye) is also nearing a return to competitive action.
Long term casualty Simon Cross is still out with a knee injury along with Andrew Easson (knee).
Edinburgh Rugby Club team to play Munster in the Magners League at Musgrave Park (Friday 19 February, kick off 8pm, live on Setanta Ireland)
15 Ben Cairns
14 Mark Robertson
13 Nick De Luca
12 John Houston
11 Tim Visser
10 David Blair
9 Greig Laidlaw (captain)
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Andrew Kelly
3 Geoff Cross
4 Jim Hamilton
5 Scott MacLeod
6 Alan MacDonald
7 Roddy Grant
8 David Callam
Substitutes: Ryan Grant, Allan Jacobsen, Craig Hamilton, Fraser McKenzie, Mike Blair, Rory Hutton*, Simon Webster.
* = denotes National Academy player.