Scotland internationalist Magnus Bradbury has been named at blindside flanker for Edinburgh’s crucial Guinness PRO14 showdown with Ulster at BT Murrayfield on Friday night (12 April, kick-off 7.35pm).
The back-row replaces John Barclay – who drops to the bench – in the only alteration to the starting XV that claimed a valuable away win against Scarlets last weekend.
Ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated Conference B encounter, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said:
“We’ve got to win. It’s the same as last week. If we don’t, we’re relying on other results and miracles. We’ve just got to keep winning.
“Although Ulster were beaten by Glasgow, they were extremely good against Leinster the week before and they should have won. They’ve had a tough run in. They played in Dublin, Glasgow and now they come to us.
“We’ll put out our best team and we’ll both go as hard as we can to try and win. They’ve got a lot of quality, but we’ve got some pretty good players too.”
Dan McFarland and his coaching team have made three personnel changes to the starting XV that lost to Glasgow last weekend.
Iain Henderson returns to captain the side, while Nick Timoney and Abbey Insurance Academy winger Robert Baloucoune are also included.
Henderson is joined in the second row by Kieran Treadwell, with Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee selected alongside Timoney in the back row. Rob Herring, Marty Moore and Eric O’Sullivan are retained in the front row.
John Cooney and Billy Burns continue on half-back duty, while Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are again named in midfield. Baloucoune’s inclusion sees Rob Lyttle move to the left wing and Jacob Stockdale shift to fullback.
Ross Kane and Peter Nelson are recalled to the match day 23, with John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan and Angus Kernohan also among the replacements.
A win for Ulster against their Conference B rivals will be enough secure a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
(15-9): J Stockdale; R Baloucoune, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney;
(1-8): E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, I Henderson (Capt), K Treadwell, N Timoney, J Murphy, M Coetzee;
Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Kane, A O’Connor, S Reidy, D Shanahan, P Nelson, A Kernohan.
Check out highlights from their first encounter this season in Belfast:
Scarlets Confirm Trio of Young Signings
The Scarlets have signed three new players following their announcement of the re-signings of a host of players
Scarlets have announced the signings of Danny Drake, Dane Blacker and Alex Jeffries ahead of the 2019/20 season.
The 24-year-old is looking forward to starting his new chapter in Wales with the Scarlets.
“I’m really excited to touch down on Welsh soil, fizzing to get stuck into the Scarlets culture and give it my all for the club and its supporters,” he said.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old scrum-half Blacker joins from the Cardiff Blues and will face stiff competition for a place in the Scarlets team where he will have to battle Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy and Jonathan Evans for a spot.
However, the youngster is happy to have signed his first professional contract, having been given some chances at Cardiff last year to impress.
“I’m delighted to sign my first professional contract with the Scarlets. It’s an honour to be a part of an exciting club and I am looking forward to the coming season,” he said.
Jefferies, a 24-year-old tight-head prop switches the Ospreys for Scarlets, having spent three years with his former club and is excited by the future.
“I am really looking forward to the next chapter in my rugby career at the Scarlets. I’m excited to work alongside a talented group players and coaches and the opportunity to make my own mark at the club. I am also looking forward to developing my game and with the right opportunities showing what I am capable of,” he said.
The young trio will add to the host of players that have re-signed with the Welsh region recently, including the likes of Jonathan Davies, Johnny McNicholl, Rob Evans and Ken Owens.
General manager of rugby at the club Jon Daniels is glad to welcome them on board and is encouraged for what the future holds.
“Danny, Dane and Alex are talented young players who will be excellent additions to our squad. We have worked hard to ensure we have put together a group of players capable of competing for silverware and re-signing players of the calibre of Johnny McNicholl, Jon Davies, Ken Owens, Rob Evans and others have been crucial to that. We are happy with the strength of the squad we have put together, but are always open to adding further players if they are the quality and right fit that we are looking for to move the Scarlets forwards. We are looking forward to welcoming the boys back for pre-season next week,” he said.
The Scarlets will be hoping to improve after a rather disappointing season and these new editions are definitely a step in the right direction.
PRO 14 Conferences Confirmed for Next Two Seasons
The PRO 14 have switched up the conferences for the next two seasons, but the Irish provinces remain in the same pairings
For the last two seasons Glasgow and Leinster have topped Conference A and Conference B respectively, even facing off in this season’s final, which the Irish province won 18-15.
It also means that while for the past two seasons they have both secured home semi-finals, the two will now battle for a single spot.
The other shift for the reigning champions is that they will move to Conference A and will be joined by Ulster.
The interesting factors in the movements of the teams is that although they lost the final Glasgow were ranked as the top team, as it was based on the points gained during last season.
That also meant that Leinster, who qualified for the knock-out stage’s weeks before the end of the regular season were seeded in third as Munster had one extra point by the end of the season.
It all leaves Conference A looking a lot more competitive and gives other teams a chance to top Conference B and reach a home semi-final.
It’s official. Stephen Larkham To Join Munster Rugby
Larkham has signed with the province until June 2022, subject to obtaining a work permit, having spent the last four years working for Rugby Australia.
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby Acting CEO Philip Quinn said: “We are very pleased to add Stephen to our coaching team and look forward to welcoming him to the province in August.
“Stephen’s values are very closely aligned with those of Munster and huge credit must go to the Professional Game Board and Johann for their work in bringing him to the province.
“Stephen is a very successful coach who had offers from other clubs so we are delighted that he has decided to join Munster.
“We now have a four-man coaching team with head coach Johann van Graan supported by senior coach Stephen, forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira.
“It has been our intention to recruit one more member for our coaching ticket and we will evaluate our needs prior to progressing with that process.”
Speaking about his move to Munster, Larkham said: “I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby.
“A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.
“I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I’m very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.
“I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP but also the very talented group of players that Munster have.”
His success at the Brumbies led to Larkham’s appointment to the position of Wallabies attack coach on a part-time basis in 2015, a role he combined with his Head Coach duties at the Brumbies.
He held this role as Australia reached the Rugby World Cup final in 2015 and departed the Brumbies in 2017 to work full-time for Rugby Australia.
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