Edinburgh Rugby are looking to leapfrog their championship rivals Ulster in a fascinating head-to-head at Murrayfield Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
As well as similar domestic fortunes (the clubs are placed 8th and 9th in the RaboDirect PRO12) the teams currently sit top of their respective Heineken Cup Pools – a position they’ll strive to maintain when their focus turns to matters Europe the following week.
Bradley said: “Like us, Ulster have so far enjoyed a successful Heineken Cup campaign but have not been as convincing in the RaboDirect PRO12, though they clearly took a big step towards addressing that last weekend against Munster [beating the champions 33-17].
“We have shown good form in front of our home support, winning six of our last seven at Murrayfield however Ulster have lost just one in their last five so will arrive with a lot of confidence, something which we will need to tackle early on.
“This is a huge match for us as a big month for the club continues and, while we’ve acknowledged the long-term importance of our January fixtures, the players and coaches focused fully on the size of the job at hand.
“Success tomorrow would clearly give us the winning momentum we desire going into the Heineken Cup however that itself is not the objective. First and foremost this is about winning in the RaboDirect PRO12.”
Stand-off Phil Godman is the only back to retain a starting spot from last weekend’s 17-12 defeat to Glasgow Warriors, where his drop-goal secured a losing bonus-point on the stroke of full-time.
The recently honoured Chris Paterson MBE returns to start the match at full-back and is joined by incoming centres James King and Nick De Luca.
Their selection sees Jim Thompson and Matt Scott move to the bench and the injured John Houston (neck) drop from the squad.
The back-line is completed by the return of RaboDirect PRO12 top try-scorer Tim Visser and Tom Brown, who returns from injury (dead leg) seeking to continue his try-scoring form from the opposite wing.
In the pack the club’s all-international front-row of Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross are set to start in place of props Jack Gilding and Kyle Traynor, who start on the bench.
Ford’s reintroduction means Andrew Kelly drops out of the squad as young hooker Alun Walker retains his place on the bench.
Esteban Lozada and Sean Cox start in the second-row as a straight swap for Grant Gilchrist (who moves to the bench) and the injured Steven Turnbull (ankle).
There’s only one personnel change to the back-row which sees Roddy Grant replace Alan MacDonald, whose impressive display against Glasgow earned him a place on the bench ahead of Ross Rennie.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Ulster at Murrayfield Stadium this Friday (6 January), kick-off 7.30pm
15 Chris Paterson
14 Tom Brown
13 Nick De Luca
12 James King
11 Tim Visser
10 Phil Godman
9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN
1 Allan Jacobsen
2 Ross Ford
3 Geoff Cross
4 Sean Cox
5 Esteban Lozada
6 Stuart McInally
7 Roddy Grant
8 Netani Talei
16 Alun Walker
17 Kyle Traynor
18 Jack Gilding
19 Grant Gilchrist
20 Alan MacDonald
21 Chris Leck
22 Matt Scott
23 Jim Thompson