TOM CROFT is adamant there will be a silver lining to his summer on the Leicester treatment table – a chance to finally secure some rest and recuperation after 18 months of near continuous rugby.
Since the 2010 summer tour to Australia, Croft has barely had a minute to collect his thoughts with two Premiership campaigns book-ending the World Cup in New Zealand.
Croft has established himself as England’s first-choice back row in winning 22 caps in that period but, until picking up a neck injury on April 21, hadn’t had much chance to take a recuperative step back from the game.
The 26-year-old Leicester star certainly will now, with fully three months scheduled in to recover from the injury sustained in a clash with next week’s Aviva Premiership final opponents, Harlequins.
And while frustrated to miss both that Quins clash, and England’s summer tour to South Africa, Croft is only concerned with the positives the complete rest will bring.
“It’s pretty frustrating, especially with the time of the season we are in now,” said Croft, speaking in his role as an ambassador for SSE, who are giving you the chance to win a pair of tickets to watch England against the Barbarians on Sunday, May 27 at Twickenham.
“It’s coming up to the finals and the summer tours but it’s something you have to get on with. It’s part and parcel of the game being injured, but the timing is not ideal.
“I am still in a neck brace at the moment and I’ll have another couple of weeks with that. It gives me a summer to fully recover, though, and you pick up a fair amount of bumps and bruises over a season, so I’ll get three months to get my body back into shape and sort my neck out.
“Once I’m out of my brace, I’ll be able to build it up over the summer. It means there won’t really be a proper summer holiday for me, but it’s what you have to do in this situation to get over an injury.
“I’ll have to get my fitness back to where it was before the injury. After that, I will be able to review where I am and see exactly when I can get back into training again. Hopefully, I’ll be able to join the boys again for pre-season.”
While Croft’s last encounter with Quins was a painful personal experience, for the Tigers it was anything but – coming back from an early deficit to run out 43-33 winners.
Croft is adamant his teammates can re-produce last month’s heroics at Twickenham next Saturday.
“Winning this has been our aim since the start of the season,” he said. “We were written off by a lot of people but there is still a job to do.
“We know that Quins will produce what they have done all season. They finished top of the table playing well all season and deserve to be in that final.
“It’s a massive game for the club, but at the moment everyone is quite relaxed.
“Obviously we played them a few weeks ago. It was a great game until I was stretchered off.
“The biggest thing I learned from that game, though, is to make sure I get my neck in the right place.
“I got a bit of teasing from the lads in the days just afterwards when it didn’t seem like it was going to be a serious one.
“Then, when they found out I’d broken it, there was a little less joking.”
Community rugby clubs in England are encouraged to register on www.sserugby.com to start benefiting from the support and resources on offer, including £10k worth of SSE Energy credits and the chance to watch England train for the Barbarians game on Sunday, May 27!