The British & Irish Cup, it seems, is not without its merits, particularly for those players who have, in recent weeks, been without a regular opportunity to showcase their talents.

With the league play-offs just a fortnight away, this weekend’s final round of B&I group matches presents a last opportunity for such men to press their claims to play more than a bit part role in the end of season formalities.

Indeed the last couple of games, in places as varied as Doncaster, Ayr, Aberavon and Llanelli, have given coaches like Ian Smith and Russell Earnshaw considerable food for thought, as established first choice players have found their places pressurised by their stand-ins.

For his part Smith, whose Moseley team finish their Pool C commitments with a visit from Bedford Blues on Friday night, is likely to use the fixture to assess the form of his fringe players ahead of next Saturday’s season-defining league match at home to Bristol.

That could see Ryan Wilson’s star continue to rise. The powerful young No 8 is thriving in the absence of Sevens-bound James Rodwell and has effectively overtaken the star of last season’s show in the pecking order.

Bryn Keys has also returned to the fray after a double leg break and no doubt has his eyes on one of the two centre berths.

And, perhaps most pleasing of all, in the last two games Andy Hall has demonstrated more appetite for the fight than at any time since his return to Billesley Common.

Sadly for Earnshaw, whose team face Pontypridd at Sharmans Cross Road, several of his bigger name players are moving in the opposite direction.

Mitch Culpin and Sam Brown, stalwarts in the club’s promotion campaign, took a giant step backwards at Doncaster last weekend and will be lucky to be given another opportunity this Saturday.

Meanwhile, Stour visit Cinderford in what could also be a decisive clash, knowing victory would go a long way to ending their relegation fears.