Players across the four home nations are on tenterhooks as the British Irish and Lions head coach Warren Gatland puts the final touches to his squad for the summer tour to South Africa.
Gatland unveils his 36 on Thursday lunchtime and, here, the PA news agency examines five bolters who could be involved.
Danny Care (scrum-half, England)
Overlooked by Eddie Jones but in contention for the Lions, Care’s influence on Harlequins’ dramatic mid-season revival has not gone unnoticed by Gatland. A 34-year-old veteran of 84 caps, Care’s last international was three years ago but he is a dynamo of a scrum-half who could benefit from Ben Youngs ruling himself out of contention.
Marcus Smith (fly-half, England)
Another influential factor in Quins’ climb into Gallagher Premiership title contention, Smith is on Gatland’s radar despite being uncapped by England. On current form the 22-year-old is the standout English fly-half and has a box of tricks to unlock any defence, but it would be huge call for him to be included in a hotly contested position.
Chris Harris (centre, Scotland)
A vacancy has been created at outside centre by George North’s knee injury and Harris could be the beneficiary. Only Ireland conceded fewer points in the Six Nations than Scotland and the bulwark of their back-line defence is the 30-year-old Gloucester star, whose work-rate and strength in the tackle could prove influential against the Springboks.
Kieran Hardy (scrum-half, Wales)
Like Care, Hardy could benefit from the lack of an established scrum-half hierarchy behind Conor Murray and the decision of Youngs not to tour. Despite seeing his Six Nations cut short early by a hamstring injury, he left a lasting impression with his try-scoring display against England. The 25-year-old offers pace and tempo.
Sam Simmonds (number eight, England)
Another player out of favour with England but in strong contention for the Lions, Simmonds is one of Europe’s stand-out performers because of his dynamic ball-carrying and stopping power in defence. The 26-year-old could be a major asset in the dry conditions of South Africa, where his speed and athleticism would come to the fore.