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TEAMS: Edinburgh make eight changes for play-off bow

Edinburgh have named their PRO14 semi-final squad

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has announced his team to face Ulster in the second of the PRO14’s two semi-finals this weekend.

Cockerill has made eight changes to the side that lost 15-3 to Glasgow Warriors a week ago, when qualification for the knockout stages had already been secured.

In comes lock Grant Gilchrist for his 150th appearance to the second row and will be partnered by Ben Toolis.

A new front row of Scotland internationals Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally and WP Nel is named for Saturday’s match at Murrayfield, which will follow Friday night’s all-Irish clash between Leinster and Munster.

Experienced half-back pairing Jaco van der Walt and Nic Groom also get the nod for Edinburgh’s first-ever PRO14 semi-final appearance.

The only other change comes in the centres with Mark Bennett lining up with Chris Dean in the midfield.

Elsewhere, Scotland star Jamie Ritchie returns from injury and is named among the replacements for the post-season clash.

Meanwhile, Ulster fly-half Billy Burns will return to captain the side this weekend, and is one of three changes from last week’s meeting with Leinster.

Jacob Stockdale will once again take the 15 jersey, with wingers Rob Lyttle and Louis Ludik completing the starting back three. For the third game in succession, James Hume and Stuart McCloskey will pair up in midfield. John Cooney will line up alongside Burns in the half-back positions.

The front-row is unchanged from the game against Leinster, with Rob Herring retaining his starting berth at hooker, as well as Eric O’Sullivan and Tom O’Toole at loosehead and tighthead props respectively.

Alan O’Connor is the only change to the pack and comes in to join Sam Carter in the second-row.

John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Kieran Treadwell and Sean Reidy provide the forward options off the bench, while Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Michael Lowry are the backline reinforcements.

Edinburgh v Ulster (Saturday, 7:35pm kick-off)

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nic Groom; 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Stuart McInally (capt), 3 WP Nel, 4 Ben Toolis, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Viliame Mata

Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 George Taylor

Ulster: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Billy Burns (capt), 9 John Cooney; 1 Eric O’Sullivan, 2 Rob Herring, 3 Tom O’Toole, 4 Alan O’Connor, 5 Sam Carter, 6 Matthew Rea, 7 Jordi Murphy, 8 Marcell Coetzee

Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Michael Lowry

Leinster v Munster (Friday, 6:35pm kick-off)

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Hugo Keenan, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (capt), 9 Luke McGrath; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 3 Andrew Porter, 4 Devin Toner, 5 Scott Fardy, 6 Caelan Doris, 7 Will Connors, 8 Jack Conan,

Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Rory O’Loughlin

Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 1 Jeremy Loughman, 2 Niall Scannell, 3 Stephen Archer, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Billy Holland, 6 Peter O’Mahony (capt), 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 8 CJ Stander,

Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Mike Haley

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