Edinburgh will seek to build on last Saturday’s fine 23-16 win over Ospreys when they head to Galway on Friday night to take on Connacht in the club’s penultimate away Magners League match of the season.
It was against the side from the Sportsground that the capital outfit completed their last set of back-to-back victories, courtesy of a 24-19 triumph at Murrayfield in November.
Fourteen members of the starting line-up that saw off Ospreys have secured selection again this week. The one change from the Ospreys game sees Geoff Cross, who impressed for Scotland in their last two RBS 6 Nations Championships matches, return at tight-head prop in place of David Young.
Mike Blair, who played his 100th Magners League game last weekend, continues his half-back pairing with Greig Laidlaw.
Ross Ford and Allan Jacobsen, mainstays of the Scotland pack in the RBS 6 Nations Championship, are to be rested from Edinburgh's final four Magners League fixtures in order that they approach their season 2011/12 commitments with both club and country in the best possible shape.
Edinburgh interim head coach Nick Scrivener said: "Any coach will always want to field his strongest possible team – that’s natural and I’m no different. Player welfare has always been a top priority for Edinburgh, and we recognise and understand the need to balance our players' commitments in what is a very busy rugby year."
Dr James Robson, Scottish Rugby's head of medical services, said: "Allan has niggling injuries in his shoulder and back which would respond best to a short period of rest; Ross Ford is fatigued and through circumstances beyond Edinburgh’s direct control they were unable to rest him earlier this season. It is best for Ross that he has that break now.
"Everyone involved in this process acknowledges and appreciates the importance of Edinburgh finishing the season in the strongest possible fashion, but we're also mindful that next year is a hugely significant one for both club and country and as such our priority has to be the long-term interests of these players."
Scrivener today outlined the qualities he feels will be required from his men on the west coast of Ireland come Friday night, saying: “We performed really well as a team against Ospreys last weekend, and it’s going to take exactly the same levels of intensity and precision to get the result we want in Connacht.
“The weather forecast for the next couple of days over there isn’t great, so we’re prepared for a lot of onus falling on our set-piece. Our lineout went very well last time out, and we’ll now be looking for a repeat as well as the same degree of effectiveness from the scrum.
“Having Geoff back in there should help in that regard. His all-round game has been very impressive for a number of months now, and we look forward to him maintaining that consistency.
“Elsewhere, we felt it was right and proper to show faith in the guys who delivered for us last week, and I’m keen to see how partnerships and combinations develop, especially at half-back where Mike [Blair] and Greig [Laidlaw] showed some very encouraging signs.
“The Ospreys game should be the template for our last four matches. It’s about us going out and showing a hunger and absolute determination to win, so that we finish what has been an up-and-down season in really positive fashion.”
EDINBURGH TEAM TO PLAY CONNACHT IN THE Magners League AT THE SPORTSGROUND, GALWAY ON FRIDAY 1 APRIL (KICK-OFF 7.45PM, LIVE ON BBC ALBA)
15 Jim Thompson
14 Simon Webster
13 Ben Cairns
12 James King
11 Tim Visser
10 Greig Laidlaw
9 Mike Blair
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Andrew Kelly (CAPTAIN)
3 Geoff Cross
4 Scott MacLeod
5 Esteban Lozada
6 Fraser McKenzie
8 David Denton
7 Scott Newlands
16 Alun Walker
17 Lewis Niven
18 Robin Hislop
19 Steven Turnbull
20 Roddy Grant
21 David Blair
22 Nick De Luca
23 Lee Jones
Not available due to injury: Alex Blair (back), Chris Bloomfield (ACL), Fraser Brown (neck, in post-surgery rehabilitation), Grant Gilchrist (ankle), Phil Godman (knee), John Houston (knee), Gregor Hunter (groin), Alan MacDonald (shoulder), Stuart McInally (hand), Lewis Niven (calf), Ross Rennie (toe), Mark Robertson (groin), Netani Talei (wrist), David Young (back).