Gunners Stripped of Key Players
Back Division Decimated
In the power tussle within the SRU Frank Hadden has clearly got his way, as many of Edinburgh's international players are rested for this game. The SRU have not issued a list of the players pulled from the Gunners for this game, but cricket-loving bad boy Hugo Southwell, Chris Paterson, Marcus Di Rollo, Mike Blair and Glasgow-bound Ally Kellock are all omitted from the Gunners squad altogether, whilst Dougie Hall, Craig Smith and Simon Webster are on the bench. Of those included in the Scotland squad only Scott Murray starts.
If Leinster win on Friday and win the league as a result you can expect to hear the screams of rage all the way from Belfast, although it could be pointed out that the Gunners side that lost to Ulster at Murrayfield in the midst of the Six Nations was also under-strength, so the SRU have a case for saying that they are only playing fair. And, despite the misgivings about the number of players pulled, this side bears a striking resemblance to the one that beat Leinster at Donnybrook in November.
However, the message this sends to any prospective investor in Scotland's pro teams is less than encouraging. Gunners fans also must be dismayed at the lack of respect shown by the SRU to them, their team and the Celtic League.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Gunners' head coach Todd Blackadder says this final league game of the season is all about pride. The Gunners have the opportunity to win four games in a row for the first time this season and, if they do, they will put a stop to Leinster's title hopes. The Irish side travel to Edinburgh trailing two points behind league leaders Ulster, but they can still be crowned champions if Ulster lose and they win.
Blackadder, in his final game in charge before he returns to his native New Zealand, is determined they won't. He said: "A lot of our motivation is not wanting Leinster to pick up the trophy at our ground. We have the opportunity to finish third in the table and we want to finish as well as we can. But, ultimately, we want to deny Leinster victory on our patch."
He has made five changes to the side which beat the Dragons two weeks ago for tomorrow's Celtic League match at Murrayfield (Friday 26 May, kick-off 7.10pm).
In the backs, Francisco Leonelli, Michael Pyke and Phil Godman come in for Hugo Southwell, Chris Paterson and Peter Jorgensen respectively while Nick de Luca replaces Simon Webster who moves onto the bench. Fergus Pringle is the only change in the forwards in place of Alastair Kellock.
Allan Jacobsen will reach a major milestone when he runs out at Murrayfield tomorrow night. It will be his 160th appearance for Edinburgh, the most any player has ever made.
Also making notable appearances will be Glasgow-bound Franciso Leonelli, Gloucester-bound Rory Lawson and Borders-bound Nick de Luca who will all be turning out in a Gunners' strip for the last time.
Edinburgh Gunners team to play Leinster at Murrayfield in the Celtic League tomorrow (Friday 26 May), kick-off 7.10pm
15 Francisco Leonelli
14 Michael Pyke
13 Phil Godman
12 Matt Dey
11 Nick de Luca *
10 Ander Monro
9 Rory Lawson CAPTAIN *
1 Allan Jacobsen
2 Andrew Kelly *
3 Alasdair Dickinson *
4 Fergus Pringle
5 Scott Murray
6 Matt Mustchin
8 David Callam *
7 Alasdair Strokosch *
16 Dougie Hall
17 Craig Smith
18 Ross Rennie
19 Alan MacDonald *
20 Greig Laidlaw
21 Ben Cairns*
22 Simon Webster
Unavailable through injury: Peter Jorgensen - hamstring injury; Simon Cross - broken scaphoid; Rob Dewey - shoulder; Allister Hogg - AC joint; Simon Taylor - knee.
* = Member of Scottish Institute of Sport