If Warren Gatland, head coach of the Australia-bound British and Irish Lions, thought he had completed the most uncomfortable of his pre-tour tasks by finalising the 37-man party, he will find himself thinking again tomorrow night.
Three of his backs – Tommy Bowe, George North and Jonathan Davies – will be involved in the Pro 12 play-off between Ulster and Scarlets at Ravenhill, a high-intensity game that will see Gatland on red alert as he prays for an injury-free outcome. It is merely the start of a fraught weekend of semi-final rugby. Tomorrow evening, another batch of Celtic tourists – Rob Kearney, Brian O'Driscoll, Jonathan Sexton, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland – are expected to put their fitness at risk in the Leinster-Glasgow contest.
Things will be just as scary in England as Leicester field half a dozen Lions against Harlequins in the last-four Premiership tie at Welford Road. Four more, including the outside-half Owen Farrell, will be involved in the Saracens-Northampton tie on Sunday.
Exeter have signed the Tongan wing Fetu'u Vainikolo from the Irish province Connacht. Vainikolo has seven Test caps to his name and has played Super Rugby for the Highlanders franchise in New Zealand.
Sale, meanwhile, have appointed Mike Forshaw as their new defence coach.
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