England v South Africa, Twickenham, November 27
Croft out to match fire with fire
November 24, 2010
Tom Croft is hoping to win the ealry collisions against South Africa © Getty Images
England flanker Tom Croft is ready to match fire with fire against South Africa on Saturday and can call on his memories of the British & Irish Lions' second Test against the Springboks in 2009 for inspiration.
Croft started at blindside for the tourists as they lost a classic at Loftus Versfeld, a Test that he describes as the most physical that he has played. And he is prepared for more of the same at Twickenham this weekend.
Crucially however he believes that England will try to move away from close-quarters combat in order to test the Springboks, beaten by Scotland last weekend at Murrayfield, in other aspects of their game.
"That second Test was the most physical I have played, one of the biggest games I have played. At the end of it I was absolutely battered," he said. "It is all very well talking about South Africa's physicality but England are a physical team as well and we won't just try to absorb them and match them.
"You have got to surpass it. We will try to take them out in that area of the game. You can't sit back. We did that against New Zealand and at the start of each half against Samoa. One thing we have learned from this series is that you have to go from minute one - like we did against Australia.
"If you sit back against this team, who are the world champions, they will take the points and it will be very hard to come back from. England are a team that want to go forward. We don't want to take backwards steps. We are difficult to team to beat and we have every confidence in ourselves."
Croft wants England to lay down a marker early on, insisting that the Boks will fly out of the traps in order to steal an early march at the set-piece and in the collisions.
"We have to expect South Africa to come out all guns blazing. It will be an absolutely massive game," he said. "The majority of the lineouts they have had on tour have been driven. That is what we have got to be aware of.
"They will come at us from the first minute and try and get that ascendancy in the first minute, whether it is the scrum or lineout. At that first scrum we have to take them back. At their first lineout, if they try and drive it we have got to take them to the floor and obliterate it. There is no other option. The first scrum and first lineout are key to setting the tone of the game. That first collision, when they come round the corner, is key."
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