Glasgow Warriors will be going all out to strike the first blow in what will be an enthralling season-long battle with Leinster when they take on the reigning European champions in the RDS Saturday (kick-off 6pm).
The clash is the opening instalment of a mini-series that will see the teams compete at least another three times in the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup.
As well as seeking to set the tone for the rest of their encounters with the Dublin side, the Warriors have the incentive of looking to secure a first ever win on Leinster soil.
In contrast to their poor away record in the fixture, Glasgow have won the last three Firhill meetings between the sides, a feat Sean Lineen believes should instil a level of confidence in his men ahead of Saturday’s match.
The head coach told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “This is another huge challenge for us, to go to the home of the Heineken Cup holders and look to do something we’ve never done before, but it’s an opportunity the players relish.
“We know we’re going to be facing Leinster a good number of times over the course of the season, and although every game is different, it’s important we set our stall out and deliver the sort of performance and result we need to kick-start our campaign.
“As with Ulster on the first weekend of the RaboDirect PRO12, we feel pretty strongly that it was our own errors that did for us against Munster last Friday night. We made a number of frustrating mistakes and then allowed them to play the game the way they wanted to in the second half.
“We know that every error is likely to be punished by a side like Leinster, so it’s about being accurate and purposeful in everything we do, and also being sharp enough to capitalise on their mistakes.
“The three times we’ve beaten them at home in the last couple of years, we’ve brought all those qualities to the table, so we know it’s something we can do if we perform to the same level.”
Lineen has made four changes to his starting XV for the match. Former Melrose captain Scott Wight, on-loan Ospreys breakaway Rory Pitman (pictured) and Scottish Rugby Elite Development player Finlay Gillies will make their first competitive starts for the club at stand-off, No.8 and hooker respectively. Ed Kalman, meanwhile, comes in for Mike Cusack at tight-head prop.
Lineen said: “All four guys have worked hard to earn an opportunity to show what they can do in a starting role.
“Scott’s a confident performer well suited to the sort of game we want to play, Rory offers good aggression and ball-carrying ability from the base of the scrum, while Finlay is a talented ball-player who isn’t shy about getting stuck in. Ed will bring experience and application to the front row, where it’s sure to be another tough battle.
“Overall, it’s another young team we’re sending out this weekend, but one that we’ve got faith in. These guys take pride in representing Glasgow Warriors and I’ve every confidence that will come through in how they perform on Saturday.”
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY LEINSTER IN RABODIRECT PRO12 AT THE RDS SATURDAY (KICK-OFF 6PM)
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Federico Aramburu
13 Rob Dewey
12 Troy Nathan
11 Colin Shaw
10 Scott Wight
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Ryan Grant
2 Finlay Gillies
3 Ed Kalman
4 Tom Ryder
5 Nick Campbell
6 Rob Harley (captain)
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Rory Pitman
16 Pat MacArthur
17 Gordon Reid
18 Mike Cusack
19 James Eddie
20 Duncan Weir
21 Ryan Wilson
22 Colin Gregor
23 Peter Horne
Not considered due to injury: Johnnie Beattie (knee), Alex Dunbar (knee), Calum Forrester (knee), Dave McCall (hamstring), Peter Murchie (shoulder), Tommy Seymour (back), Fergus Thomson (shoulder), Jon Welsh (ankle).
Full match coverage from Leinster v Glasgow Warriors will be available on the club’s online home, www.glasgowwarriors.org, with live score updates via our official Twitter feed @glasgowwarriors.