Aviva Premiership
Tom Croft ready to hit the ground running
ESPN Staff
September 2, 2014
Tom Croft receives attention after suffering an injury in the opening match of last season © Getty Images

England and Leicester flanker Tom Croft has spoken to the Times about the injuries which threatened his career as he prepares for his latest comeback after finishing his first full pre-season in seven years.

Croft was sidelined for almost all of last season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first game, months after a successful British Lions tour. That followed a another long lay-off when he broke his neck in April 2012.

"Every rugby player knows that rugby is a contact sport and there is always a chance that you might get an injury that will cause you to retire or plenty worse," he said. "Once you break your neck most things are fairly insignificant in terms of breakages.

"You want to be getting the glory and fixing things when you lose. It is just being out of the loop, which is the hardest thing when you're injured."

Although Croft was fit by the end of the season, he missed out on the England tour of New Zealand and Leicester coach Richard Cockerill told the newspaper that was a good thing.

If you try to protect yourself then your game is going to change and you might as well as not play and you are more likely to injure yourself

"You take the positives out of difficult situations," Cockerill said. "He had a long-term injury and we have tried to use it as the Kiwis do, as his sabbatical. He's been away from rugby, and that freshens the body. Hopefully we will see the benefit to that this season and then leading into the World Cup.

"Tom is world class. He is a bit different to other sixes with his aerial ability at the lineout, his defence and especially his speed around the field."

Croft, however, is not thinking as far ahead as the World Cup yet. "It's about playing well for your club, playing well for your country in the autumn and Six Nations and then finishing off with your club. The World Cup is not even an issue at this stage."

One thing he emphasised was that there would be no gentle return to action. "If you try to bring that into your game and protect yourself then your game is going to change and you might as well as not play and you are more likely to injure yourself.

"It is one of those things that I accept I have to look after myself now. I had a quick chat with Cockers and he told me I am getting old now, which was a nice boost on the first day of pre-season."

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