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.
At the age of 30, Quinnell announced his retirement from international rugby after 52 caps for Wales having become their leading try-scoring forward and most capped No 8. Like his father Derek, he was also a British Lion and played in all three Tests against Australia on the 2001 tour having been invalided out of the 1997 trip to South Africa at an early stage due to a groin injury.
Quinnell has found the reaction to his retirement "immediate and overwhelming." He says: "It's great when people come up to you and say well done and so on. I have had a load of cards - to the club, my home, the Welsh Rugby Union - and it has been fantastic. But life goes on and now I just want to concentrate on playing for Llanelli. It is very clear and that is my priority. It is something I am looking forward to, to give the best of myself to the club." Quinnell would need no convincing that the support he received when playing for Wales is replicated when he continues with Llanelli.
"The fans will always turn out for Welsh rugby because the support base is incredible," he says. "I can watch Wales now - well, I don't really like watching but I can still enjoy it. I enjoyed watching the New Zealand game and I thought the boys played pretty well. It was nice to have a couple of beers with the family and relax for a change."
Quinnell was born just before the season when Llanelli beat New Zealand at Stradey Park. Anyone who was there, as I was, knew that they had seen a defining day in the history of world rugby and the memory of that victory will never be allowed to fade. But as time hurries by, it is equally obvious that today's Llanelli players, who play on the same pitch where the All Blacks were beaten, need to nail down an achievement of their own and winning the European Cup is now the most natural target.
In two of the last three seasons, Llanelli have been losing semi-finalists, first by 31-28 to Northampton at the Madejski Stadium in Reading in 2000, and then by 13-12 to Leicester at Nottingham last year. Each time, Llanelli were put out by an agonisingly late penalty.
"It was an awful journey home after losing to Leicester, especially because we had lost to Northampton two years earlier in a similar situation," says Quinnell. "It just makes you more determined to do it, be it this year or next year. Hopefully, you can rise to the occasion.
"The Monday morning after we lost to Leicester was just another day. It's a professional game and you have to get up and go again, get back on the bike. It's just better to keep a routine no matter what has happened and you have to learn from it, see what you did well, see what you did not do so well, and prepare for the next game.
"You try to improve game by game, year on year, and hopefully we can do that. But everyone else is doing the same. You have to adapt because the game moves on - by day, by month, by year - and you want to regroup as a side in order to take something positive out of every game.
"Because you were semi-finalists in the European Cup last season, you want to achieve at least that goal again. But the levels being reached are so high that to get to the top four is very difficult. But if you don't set your sights on at least that, there is no point being in it.
"To win the Cup, you are going to have to win away and doing that at any stage is fantastic. Standards are so high that if you get an away win they really are like gold dust, especially at the top end of the competition. It is tough everywhere, especially playing back to back against the top sides. "Llanelli can certainly draw on the experience of two semi-finals on the emotions and what it means for you. You cannot look back at the disappointment and hopefully you can aspire to greater things."
Quinnell knows that Llanelli's portfolio as a club will not be complete until Europe's premier club trophy is brought home to Stradey Park. Whether the current team can pull it off in the next couple of years remains to be seen but Quinnell is going to be in there, working and helping to anchor the cause.
He will be there for the next two years, possibly longer. Of course, he has yet to find out how he will cope with a new sporting regime in which he plays solely for Llanelli instead of having to balance his club and family life with his country as well.
"I was thinking at the start of this season that I just wanted to enjoy it and that Llanelli should win everything. It's nonsense to say that you don't want to win every match. But if you try to prioritise, it doesn't really work. The European Cup is the biggest one of the lot and of course Llanelli will be trying like heck.
"It's a fantastic rugby club with a great bunch of players, a great coaching staff and fantastic support. That all makes for a good recipe really and hopefully it is a recipe for success."
A recipe which from now on should have Llanelli's chef d'equipe's undivided attention.