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Edinburgh change tack in their bid to bring inter-city losing streak to an end

Whether through misfortune as was claimed or in an attempt to keep the opposition guessing, doubt remained over Edinburgh's line-up at yesterday's official team announcement but what was clear was their desperation to win back the 1872 Challenge Cup.

It is now four years since the right to house the trophy which marks the oldest representative rivalry in rugby union other than the Scotland-England match, was last earned by the team from the capital and as Michael Bradley, their head coach, acknowledged it has rarely mattered more.

He admitted it had been different a year ago when he was preparing for his first brace of derbies, but was also trying to ensure that his team had its best chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup, which they of course duly did. "We're not fighting on two fronts now," he acknowledged. "However, last year the matches were closer together which caused problems for us. In an 11-day period we had three games. This time the fixtures are more spread out which will allow the squads to recover from a fairly intense encounter. Last year's fixture schedule wasn't the wisest.

"When we got through [to the quarter-finals] against Racing in Paris last year, it was by Phil Godman's drop-goal in the last seconds and you just have to get everything right to that point, shall we say. We are not going to Racing this year to get to the quarter-finals unfortunately and we have more time between the matches."

There is, however, also the consideration that pressure is building on both team's coaches following the disastrous run of eight successive defeats between the two sides in the Heineken Cup and, as Bradley noted, last season's derbies were pivotal in terms of how they finished in the now all-important RaboDirect Pro12.

"We are being measured against Glasgow, who are our closest and keenest rivals," he noted. "When we finished last year we were 11th in the PRO12 and Glasgow were in the play-offs and that wasn't a pleasant picture for us, and was continually brought up in press conferences. I'm sure they weren't too happy to see us in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup while they played well but didn't get out of their group."

There is also the personal element to it, frequently encouraging the likening of these games to the international of olden times which would generally take place around the festive period. "The boys are conscious of that when they go to an international training session," said Bradley. "There's plenty of slagging goes on and you like to have the upper hand. Our fans are the same, so there's a lot at stake."

So much so that there had to be a clear suspicion that the either/ors across the Edinburgh back line have as much to do with keeping Glasgow guessing as with the injuries suffered by Nick De Luca and Lee Jones that have apparently cast doubt over their participation and in turn means the half-back combination will be selected based on who is outside them.

"That would be very unlike me," the Irishman said with a grin when it was suggested that he might be playing mind games.

He claimed the problem was, instead, created by the intensity of their preparation. "We've cranked up the training accordingly and in doing so have caused ourselves a bit of an injury worry," Bradley explained. "We're navigating our way through that and so have trained in a couple of different ways and with different combinations."

Maybe so, but apparently it did not prevent De Luca joining Greig Laidlaw, the club captain, in taking on additional responsibility this week, Bradley explaining that they had asked if they, rather than the coaches, could make the main presentation on what they felt was required to win this match.

Laidlaw admitted that had partly been driven by a recognition that Glasgow have seemed to want the victories more these past few years.

"That's been an impression. Whether it's been real . . ." he said, leaving that thought unfinished.

"We've definitely been up for the games, but Glasgow have won them. Credit to them for that. That's one of the reasons maybe this week why we presented, because I want that to be reversed. I want Edinburgh to win.

"Being captain of the club, I feel I have a responsibility to make sure it's driven from within. I like to think I'm a hard worker, do the extras and leave no stone unturned to give yourself every possible chance of winning the game."

"It's sometimes good some messages coming from within. The analysis that Michael and the coaches do is usually top-notch, but we just thought we'd freshen it up this week. Nick was top-class in his stuff. He's a character and he was getting pretty excited about the game and it's important that there's a message coming from within the squad that we want to win these games."

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