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Awards decision-making starts up front

There can be few better sights than Logovi'i Mulipola on the charge - unless you're a defender of course
There can be few better sights than Logovi'i Mulipola on the charge - unless you're a defender of course

You could see it as a triumph of the old school with two Leicester Tigers props included among the nominations for the Lumbers Player of the Month.

Logo Mulipola and Dan Cole, together with back-rower Sione Kalamafoni, comprise the shortlist for the December award.

It was not, by any stretch, a golden month for Tigers, but the nominations show where the most impressive work in the team was done.

Mulipola, one of the few men who can genuinely play on either side of the scrum at the top level, has come back from a stop-start season-and-a-half and hit the ground running. Literally.

Logo’s fitness was certainly tested in successive games against Munster, Exeter and Saracens, then the scrap with Irish which finally broke the losing run, and it has probably done him a world of good in the long run after problems with knee and neck in the last couple of years.

He still hits hard in defence, he has made an impact in an impressive scrum in testing circumstances and the Welford Road faithful like nothing more than seeing Logo carry at and over opposition defences.

His has been a welcome return, especially in the absence of Ellis Genge and then Greg Bateman during that Christmas period. Let’s hope it can be the platform for more to come in the crucial second half of the season.

Cole, meanwhile, is the Duracell battery of front-rowers. There can be no other tighthead in the world game who gets through as many minutes in top-level rugby.

England rarely rotate Cole from the frontline or even give him a few minutes back on the bench in Test matches and Tigers have known his worth since he first came through the ranks to overtake legends Julian White and Martin Castrogiovanni.

A lot of work from the front row, of course, goes unseen, even in the modern game. But Cole is still a stand-out performer week in, week out.

The national media can champion their current favourites to overtake Cole but he’s been doing it for a decade and the competition have come and gone at a steady rate. There is still more to come from him, of that you can be sure. His performances with Tigers, even in an under-pressure team over the last six weeks or so, bear testament to that.

Matt O’Connor has admitted that the back five of the scrum has appeared a little under-powered at times, but he’s been equally keen to point out the quality in the front row. “It is as good as anything around,” the Tigers head coach said recently. A good team starts right there – now the gauntlet is down to the rest of the squad to match them.