Churchill Cup
Saxons captain praises Exeter flanker
ESPNscrum Staff
June 10, 2011
Tom Johnson looks to pass the ball, England training session, Bath, England, May 23, 2011
Tom Johnson has impressed in the England jersey after a memorable season © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Jordan Crane | Tom Johnson | Luke Narraway
Tournaments/Tours: Churchill Cup

England Saxons captain Jordan Crane has praised Exeter's Tom Johnson following his meteoric rise in English rugby over the past season.

Johnson has shone in the red-rose jersey against the Barbarians at Twickenham, playing at blindside flanker, and during England Saxons' record breaking 87-8 win over the USA at Franklin's Gardens, where he lined up at openside.

Johnson's club side Exeter Chiefs surprised many with their form this season and Crane believes there can be comparisons drawn between the player and the Chiefs.

"Tom Johnson's been a real surprise package - a bit like Exeter Chiefs this season," said Crane.

"Watching him play against the Barbarians and then playing well again last weekend, he's had two great games. He's made the step up easily.

"Long may it continue and surely if he keeps playing as well as he did last week he's going to be asking questions of the people above him too, so I think he fits in great. He's definitely one to watch over the next couple of years."

Crane was speaking ahead of Sunday's Churchill Cup tie against Tonga, which will be played at Gloucester's Kingsholm.

Following a problem with his back, Gloucester's No.8 Luke Narraway had to leave the squad for treatment, leaving Crane to step into the Gloucester favourites shoes and take the captaincy for the rest of the tournament.

Crane, however, is not underestimating the threat of the Tongan's, who also recorded an impressive victory over the USA, winning 44-13 on Wednesday.

"We know Tonga will be a big physical battle and we need to be more physical than we were against the USA," said Crane.

"We let them come at us and that was the only disappointing thing that came out of the game. We'll look to up that against Tonga and put in a performance that takes us through to the final."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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