Richard Cockerill gives John Barclay first Edinburgh selection

Scotland captain John Barclay will finally make his first appearance for Edinburgh 16 months on from his switch from the Scarlets being announced.

The 32-year-old has been battling a ruptured Achilles tendon injury for almost a year, but has been handed his debut for Friday night’s clash against Leinster. You can back Edinburgh to cause an upset if you bet here.

Despite the setback of having Blair Kinghorn ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury picked up on Six Nations duty, head coach Richard Cockerill welcomes back Darcy Graham, Hamish Watson, Ben Toolis and Willem Nel to his team.

Capped 71 times by Scotland, Barclay was labelled as a player central to the PRO14 club’s run-in by Cockerill.

“It’ll be good to have John back,” said the Edinburgh head coach.

“He’s a fantastic player and his leadership around the group and his knowledge of the game is very, very good, and that could well be important for us in the run-in.”

“We need to be as strong as we can be because we’ve had some poor results where we’ve slipped up where we shouldn’t have.

“That’s put us in a situation where, with four league games to go, we’re probably going to have to win all of them if we want to qualify for the play-offs.”

Leinster visit Meggetland as the outright leaders in the PRO14, with Edinburgh among a cohort of four other clubs vying for two play-off places in Conference B.

Victory over the reigning PRO14 champions for Edinburgh could see them move into fourth and two points off Ulster in third.

Teams: Edinburgh v Leinster (Friday, 19:35 kick-off)

Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (capt); 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Ben Toolis, 6 John Barclay, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Viliame Mata

Replacements: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Chris Dean

Leinster: 15 Ciaran Frawley, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Noel Reid, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath; 1 Ed Byrne, 2 Sean Cronin, 3 Michael Bent, 4 Josh Murphy, 5 Mick Kearney, 6 Rhys Ruddock (capt), 7 Dan Leavy, 8 Max Deegan

Replacements:  16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Oisin Dowling, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Jimmy O’Brien, 23 Conor O’Brien.

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