It’s all happening for Leicester Tigers prop Dan Cole. Last week he became a British & Irish Lion and today he turns 26.
If his first Lions selection last week was the best possible early birthday gift, his biggest gift this week would be an Aviva Premiership semi-final win over Harlequins at Welford Road on Saturday.
The Tigers, who provide six players to the Lions tour party for Hong Kong and Australia, are still smarting from their 30-23 defeat by the Quins at Twickenham Stadium in last season’s Premiership Final.
Revenge this weekend would be sweet for Cole and co, especially as the Tigers have lost the last two finals. In 2011 they were beaten 22-18 by Saracens, who are in the other semi-final this weekend facing Northampton Saints.
Tight head prop specialist Cole is bidding to play in his fifth successive final and will be pushing Barbarians prop Martin Castrogiovanni for the starting slot. There could be 10 Lions lining-up in the Premiership semi-finals and a further 11 in the RaboDirect PRO12 Play-Offs.
Ulster Rugby host the Scarlets at Ravenhill on Friday night in a game that could se Tommy Bowe go head-to-head with George North, while the picking of the individual battles at the RDS on Saturday night when Leinster Rugby host Glasgow Warriors will be the duel between full backs Rob Kearney and Stuart Hogg.