18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Christian Lanta, coach of Heineken Cup newcomers Agen, believes the French club's quick-fire matches against Llanelli Scarlets will go a long way to deciding the Pool 4 qualifiers for April's quarter-finals.
The Scarlets top the group with nine points but second placed Agen will travel to Stradey Park on Friday night in positive mood.
"These are crucial matches for both sides," said Lanta.
"These back-to-back fixtures will enable the club that wins the matches - or comes out with the most bonus points - to have one foot in the quarter-finals.
"We will certainly be aiming to get a win in Llanelli, or at least a bonus point for finishing within seven points of them.
"But even then it won't necessarily be over. Northampton Saints will be another difficult game for us straight after our home game against Llanelli.
"However, our performances and results over the next two rounds will be decisive for the rest of our Heineken Cup campaign.
"We are still discovering the Heineken Cup and, despite circumstances at Northampton which meant we were down to 14 men after just six minutes, I though that match showed us that we can compete with the best in this Heineken Cup. We were leading 7-6 at half-time and overall it was encouraging for us."
The subsequent four-week ban imposed on international prop and club captain Jean-Jacques Crenca after his red card at Northampton rules him out of Friday's contest. Crenca will be available for the return match at Stade Armandie eight days later.
But Lanta is relieved to be able to welcome back other key players.
"Our squad will be boosted by the returns of Francois Gelez, who missed a French Championship game last week with a calf injury, and Thierry Labrousse, who has been out of action for three months with an ankle injury," said the coach.
"Philippe Benetton has recovered from a broken arm and will make his Heineken Cup debut against Llanelli - either in Round 3 or in the home game in Round 4.
"He is a key part of the Agen side and I am looking forward to him returning to the team, possibly as captain."
And Lanta knows exactly what to expect at a passionate Stradey Park. "I was coach of Benetton Treviso seven years ago and travelled to Llanelli with them for a Heineken Cup game so I knew from personal experience how tough it is to play there," he recalled.
"I remember we suffered in the first half-hour in particular, which is how they tend to play - they score very quickly on their home turf.
"They are very penetrating in attack, putting pressure on the opposition and, having seen some of their recent games, it is evident that Llanelli players were at the heart of Wales' great performances in the World Cup.
"This is another big test for Agen - but one which we are relishing."