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Dan's sites set firmly on Scarlets challenge

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Dan Hipkiss was the toast of the town with his man-of-the-match performance in the EDF Energy Cup Final, but he says it will be consigned to history when he walks out at the Walkers Stadium for the Heineken Cup semi-final today.

The centre picked up the man-of-the-match award at Twickenham as Tigers beat the Ospreys last Sunday and has played a big part in the team's push for honours on three fronts this season.

His form has not gone unnoticed and the national media have backed him to earn a place in the England squad this summer ahead of the World Cup.

But 24-year-old Hipkiss says he is focusing solely on the showdown with Llanelli Scarlets this afternoon.

"Those other games have gone now, all you can do is concentrate on the next game and I have made a really big effort to do that," he said.

"You take confidence as a player when you are playing in certain big matches. I think I have played in 25 games this season and if you play in all those big games anyone is going to improve."

The Ipswich-born centre was in the crowd for the last Heineken Cup clash with the Scarlets, back in 2002, after first linking up with Tigers as an England U-16 international.

He made his first-team debut in the pre-season games of 2002/03 but has really established himself this year. Among the reasons for his improvement, he says, is the presence of centre partner Daryl Gibson, not just on the pitch but at the training ground too.

"I have watched Gibbo and you try to replicate how he goes about being a professional, how he trains, how he gets his body in the right shape to play, his attitude to training even if he has a niggle, and you try to look at him and learn from him," said Hipkiss.