Richard Cockerill says his Edinburgh team are going to Leinster to upset the double champions despite leaving out some of his biggest regulars from the travelling squad.
Captain Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist, Blair Kinghorn and Matt Scott are not in the squad heading for the RDS on Saturday night as the coach opts to rest some with international playing protocols and rotate others within his now enlarged squad.
“After this game we have Benetton and Cheetahs, then we are into Europe. There are two league games at home that will be very important to us and this is a good opportunity to rotate the squad,” he argued.
“But this is still a good team, isn’t it? There are seven internationals in the forward pack (only captain Fraser McKenzie is not involved presently with Scotland) while Juan Pablo Cocino and Dougie Fife are international backs.
“All these guys are playing would like to see themselves as competing for a regular starting spot. It is a test of our strength in depth and of those players to step up.
“I am expecting us to go there and throw everything at them and see where we get to.”
Henry Pyrgos is absent because his wife is about to give birth, but while the remainder are rested, it’s not a “second team”.
“I suppose you could interpret it like that, but it’s a bit like Leinster sending a completely different 23 to Cardiff; they came away with a result so that’s their prerogative,” continued the head coach.
“The reality is that we’ve got to go there and try and win and we’ll try and do that. Are we supposed to keep flogging the same 15 blokes for the next six weeks until the Autumn Tests come? We have to rotate the squad.
“I would imagine we have a slightly different budget to Leinster so we have to work with the cards we are dealt. But for me that’s a good 23; those players I’m comfortable with them going there and battling for the points.”
Cockerill has dipped into the sevens locker again for Jamie Farndale while he has both Damien Hoyland, Darcy Graham and Tom Brown struggling with injuries, and that remains an option.
“We had good success bringing Dougie Fife and Jimmy Johnstone last year, so it is an opportunity for Jamie to prove himself.
“He’s still a sevens player. He’ll go back to the sevens at this point but if opportunity arises and Jamie’s going to stay and play a meaningful part in our squad then that’s a conversation to be had. “(Sevens head coach) John Dalziel and myself work very closely together and players, as you’ve seen, come and go between the squads.
“Sevens is a development programme for the 15s, as we’ve seen with Dougie Fife coming back and Jimmy Johnstone being given the chance.
“If Jamie grasps the opportunity and there’s a meaningful chance for him to be here, then that’s a conversation I’ll have with John Dalziel and (director of rugby) Scott Johnson.”
Edinburgh (v Leinster, RDS Arena, PRO14 tomorrow (Saturday 22 September, 7.35pm): Dougie Fife; Jamie Farndale, Chris Dean, Juan Pablo Socino, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Sean Kennedy; Allan Dell, Ross Ford, Simon Berghan, Fraser McKenzie (capt), Ben Toolis, Luke Hamilton, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Pierre Schoeman, Murray McCallum, Callum Hunter-Hill, Luke Crosbie, Nathan Fowles, Simon Hickey, James Johnstone.