Hi all... Crofty here again!
It’s about three months since I returned to playing after injury and things have been going alright. I played week on, week off to start with, which gave me a chance to fully recover between matches, then since the end of February it’s been business as usual. Things went well with Leicester Tigers and getting reintroduced into the England side towards the end of the RBS 6 Nations was like the end of one bad chapter and the start of the rest of my career.
It didn’t feel like I’d been out as long as I had, but match fitness was initially the thing. I’ve never really been concerned about my neck or being able to take the physical side of things, because I’d done all the rehab and prehab and that was strong enough. It was literally just getting games under my belt and after that I felt pretty confident about things.
To be back in an England shirt during the RBS 6 Nations was great, although it didn’t end how I hoped it would. As everyone now knows, we lost against Wales in Cardiff and our hopes of a grand slam disappeared. But we’ll learn from it and you can’t say that because we lost that game in the manner we did we’ve taken a huge backward step and have to rebuild. We’re still going well and the guys who get the chance to go to Argentina with England this summer will want to take up the mantle and keep the progress we’ve made going.
The squad for the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia is due to be named on April 30 and people ask me whether it’s on my radar? To be perfectly honest, it’s just business as usual for me at the moment and all my focus is on playing well for Leicester. Everything else is out of my control and the aim at the moment, after our Heineken Cup exit in Toulon, is to get a home semi-final in the Premiership and that’s as far as my mind will go. I’ve seen all the stuff about the Lions and England’s summer tour, but it’s all about the next game for me.
From a Tigers perspective, we were really disappointed with that 21-15 defeat in Toulon. The Heineken Cup means a lot to us and we pushed one of the best club sides in world rugby close on their own patch, but we had chances to win that game and mistakes we made let them back in. Jonny Wilkinson kicking as well as he did that day didn’t help but it was very frustrating and we don’t want to be valiant losers, we want to be winning things.
After the game I was talking to my former England colleague, Simon Shaw, and he said he hadn’t seen Jonny Wilkinson (‘Wilko’) kick that well for a long time. Wilko rocked up for that big game and kicked everything, and the drop goal near the end rubbed salt into the wound a little bit. He’s playing exceptionally well and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him selected for the Lions tour. Lions’ parties are selected upon players who are in form at the time, it’s not about building for a World Cup or anything, so fair play to Jonny, he’s a man right in form at the moment.
As I said, Leicester is where my focus is right now and we’d love to reach another Premiership final. We’ve been to eight in a row and would love to make it a ninth, but your first objective is a home semi-final and then it’s knock-out rugby. After that, we’ll see what might happen on the international front. It’s a year since I broke my neck, so to go from that sort of low to knowing I’ll be touring again would be huge. We’ll find out soon enough.
That’s it for now, see you again soon.
All the best