Edinburgh welcome FC Grenoble to Murrayfield in their European Challenge Cup opener on Friday: 19:30 kick-off
The Scots have lost their last three games in the Pro 12
Grenoble were defeated 52-12 in their last away game at Toulouse.
John Hardie will make his Edinburgh debut while Alasdair Dickinson makes his 100th appearance for the club
BY JACK MITCHINSON
Edinburgh and Grenoble meet at Murrayfield this Friday in their European Challenge Cup opener with both sides hoping for a change of fortunes.
The hosts are without David Denton, with the Scotland back-rower completing a move to Aviva Premiership side Bath this week.
Neither side have had a great start to their league seasons, and will both be looking to kick off their Challenge Cup campaigns with a much-needed victory.
Edinburgh have dropped down to seventh in the Pro12 following three consecutive defeats, which came after an impressive opening run of four back-to-back wins.
Meanwhile, Grenoble also find themselves in mid-table, sitting eighth in the French Top 14, having won four and lost four in the eight rounds of the competition so far.
Flanker John Hardie will make his debut for Edinburgh. The NewZealand-born back-row was a central pillar for Scotland during their Rugby World Cup campaign, and has joined Edinburgh after leaving Super Rugby side the Highlanders.
He replaces Hamish Watson in the home line-up and will be joined by captain Mike Coman and Cornell Du Preez in the back row.
Dougie Fife takes over from Blair Kinghorn at full-back, while Greig Tonks continues at fly-half.
Prop Alasdair Dickinson will lead the team out at Murrayfield to mark his 100th appearance for the club.
After being battered by Toulouse in their last game, Grenoble will head into this European tie with something to prove against an Edinburgh side who have lost their last three games. The return of key players for Edinburgh should tip the buck in their favour, and I predict a comfortable win for the home side. Edinburgh by 15.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Edinburgh: Alisdair Dickinson
The Edinburgh prop forward will make his 100th appearance for the club, and will lead his side out at Murrayfield on Friday evening. The loosehead is fundamental to Edinburgh having success in the scrum, and will hope to show his international prowess against what is ultimately a weaker looking Grenoble team. His sheer force and drive in scrum and mauls are what makes him the player he is, and Edinburgh will be reliant on Dickinson to lead from the front and get their European campaign off to a winning start.
FC Grenoble: James Hart
The Irishman will captain his side from scrum-half in this game, and will look to help Grenoble to their first away European victory in four attempts. The versatile back has played 54 games for the French club, racking up an impressive 268 points. Grenoble’s hopes will lie heavily in his hands, and will hope that his work both on and off the ball will be enough to see them snatch a victory.
Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 William Helu, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 WP Nel, 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Alex Toolis, 6 Mike Coman (c), 7 John Hardie, 8 Cornell Du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Chris Dean.
Grenoble: 15 Clement Gelin, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Daniel Kilioni, 10 Gilles Bosch, 9 James Hart (c); 1 Fabien Barcella, 2 Loick Jammes, 3 Kevin Goze, 4 James Percival, 5 Mathias Marie, 6 Mahamadou Diaby, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 8 Dylan Hayes.
Replacements: 16 Arnaud Heguy, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Walter Desmaison, 19 Ben Hand, 20 Steven Setephano, 21 Christophe Loustalot, 22 Xavier Mignot, 23 Lucas Dupont.