Head coach Michael Bradley threw down the gauntlet to a refreshed Edinburgh Rugby side today as they prepared to face Cardiff Blues at the City Stadium, six days from the club’s historic Heineken Cup semi-final.
Wales is typically a tough hunting ground for the capital club, with Bradley’s men beating the Blues only once in their last seven outings.
That victory was the most recent, however, and inspired a European Cup run which saw them top the group and march on to next week’s match in the penultimate round.
With a short turnaround between this Sunday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash and the European showcase at the Aviva Stadium, Bradley has promoted almost the entire bench from the quarter-final win over Toulouse to the starting line-up, with a place in the semi-final the ultimate reward for stand-out performers.
Bradley said: “This is where we want to be as a club and, as players, those picked to play Cardiff this weekend know that they could be one performance away from playing a part in a landmark day in the club’s history in the Heineken Cup semi-final and, potentially, the final, in three weeks’ time.
“Cardiff are a very strong team and our matches this season have been very close, so it’s an excellent opportunity for our players to put their hands up for the Heineken Cup squad selection.
“With so much at stake for these players, they will be mentally primed for this clash. With the right application they are capable for getting the desired result for Edinburgh Rugby.”
Chris Paterson (full-back) is among those set to return to the front-line, while the club also welcomes the timely return of experienced front-line players James King (centre) and Steven Turnbull (lock), absent since January through groin and foot injuries respectively.
Sep Visser, who scored on his last appearance against Ulster at Ravenhill, and Jim Thompson, will take to the wings while half-backs Alex Black and Phil Godman have the chance to orchestrate the match.
John Houston, who started the crucial bonus point win over London Irish, returns to the fold to partner King in the centre.
A full front-row switch sees Kyle Traynor, Andrew Kelly and Jack Gilding pack down before the returning Turnbull and promising prospect Robert McAlpine, while Alan MacDonald and Struan Dewar are brought into a new-look back-row with Roddy Grant at number 8.
Lewis Niven recovers from a back strain to take a place on the bench while the form of Aberdeen Grammar has not escaped the attention of the coaches, as lock Murray Douglas is offered his first shot at a professional encounter as a lock replacement.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Cardiff Blues at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday 22 April (kick-off 2.05pm) – BBC WALES
15 Chris Paterson
14 Sep Visser
13 James King
12 John Houston
11 Jim Thompson
10 Phil Godman
9 Alex Black
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Andrew Kelly
3 Jack Gilding
4 Robert McAlpine
5 Steven Turnbull
6 Alan MacDonald
7 Struan Dewar
8 Roddy Grant CAPTAIN
16 Alun Walker
17 Robin Hislop
18 Lewis Niven
19 Murray Douglas (Aberdeen Grammar)
20 Hamish Watson
21 Chris Leck
22 Harry Leonard
23 Dougie Fife
Not available through injury: Ben Cairns (knee), Estenabn Lozada (chest), Steven Lawrie (knee), Stuart McInally (hamstring strain)