England's under-fire Test props Joe Marler and Dan Cole have been given a timely boost ahead of their Heineken Cup quarter-final clashes next month.
Both Marler and Cole found themselves on the wrong end of Steve Walsh's whistle as England's Grand Slam dreams were shattered by Wales in Cardiff, where they were beaten by a record margin, 30-3.
The knives were quickly out for loose head Marler, who will be packing down for Harlequins against Munster, and tight-head Cole, who will anchor the Leicester Tigers scrum in Toulon in the last eight, but they have found an unlikely ally in Ospreys and Wales rival Adam Jones.
One of 15 players nominated for the 'Man of the Tournament' award, four times championship winner Jones, who played against Tigers twice in the Heineken Cup Pool stages, gave both England men a vote of confidence.
"People have come out and said that Marler was shocking, but he's good. I'd never played against him before and he's a better prop than I thought he was," admitted Jones.
"He's only 22 and he's excellent - both loose-heads were - and Dan Cole is only 25. They are only going to get better, and I'm pretty sure that come the World Cup England are going to be formidable opposition."
Cole could find himself packing down against last weekend's jubilant Welsh skipper Gethin Jenkins once again in his club's quarter-final at Stade Félix Mayol, on Sunday, 7 April (kick-off 17.30 local time).
If it is not Jenkins, who has confirmed he will be returning to Cardiff Blues from the Top 14 leaders at the end of the season, then it could well be former England and British & Irish Lions loose head Andrew Sheridan.
As for Marler, he faces another tough front row examination from former Springbok prop BJ Botha when Munster travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 7 April (kick-off 2.30pm).
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.