Two more Lions squad members can now turn their attention to this month’s tour of South Africa after their domestic season came to an end on Saturday.
Bath hooker Lee Mears and Harlequins wing Ugo Monye can now concentrate solely on the 10-match tour of the Republic, although both would have no doubt preferred to be spending this week preparing for an appearance in the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham.
Dreams of becoming champions of England have been put on hold for another year, however, as Bath fell to defeat at Leicester and Harlequins lost out at home to London Irish in the last four of the competition.
Both players started their respective semi-finals but were unable to prevent the Tigers and Exiles booking their place in next Saturday’s showdown at English rugby’s headquarters.
Those results will ensure that Mears and Monye will be available for the Lions’ pre-tour training camp, a fact that will please head coach Ian McGeechan.
Of the two finalists, only Leicester possess a Lion in their squad, with scrum-half Harry Ellis the only English tourist not to have seen the conclusion to his domestic season.
As well as this weekend’s clash with the Irish, Ellis will face a further week of club rugby before joining up with the Lions.
The 26-year-old is set to appear in the Heineken Cup Final at Murrayfield on May 23, just a day before the Lions are due to depart for South Africa.
Ellis will be joined at Murrayfield by fellow 2009 Lions Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll, all of whom are likely to be in the Leinster squad for the climax to the European club campaign.