Cockerill backs Croft for England return
March 2, 2013
Leicester's Tom Croft has won 39 England caps and three for the Lions © Getty Images
The flanker completed 80 minutes as he made his 100th appearance for the Tigers in the 48-10 win over Sale Sharks at Welford Road. He injured his neck towards the end of last season and only returned to action against Worcester Warriors on January 2.
In the meantime he missed the summer tour to South Africa, the autumn internationals and all three of England's Six Nations matches so far. Having been left out of the training squad for the match with Italy, it is unlikely that he will add to his 39 England caps in this year's Championship.
"He is a good enough player to go and play. He has played two full games now and if England needed him I'm sure he would be ready to go and do a job," Cockerill said. "Tom's attitude has been outstanding and he has used the time when he has not been playing to deal with his contact work and his conditioning."
Croft played in all three Tests on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, but he admitted earlier in the season that he was more likely to be touring with England to Argentina in the summer, rather than with the Lions to Australia.
Cockerill agreed that he is unlikely to tour with the Lions, though he knows there is still a small window of opportunity for a player of Croft's quality.
"If we keep ourselves in the play-off mix and we go to Toulon (in the Heineken Cup) and Tom is outstanding in that company, there is an opportunity for him to go on the Lions tour," Cockerill said. "I'd have no hesitation in saying that Tom is ready to go and play a Test match next week. He has worked really hard and been patient and we are now getting the rewards."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"Wayne Barnes' decision to give Dylan Hartley his marching orders was brave but crucially it was the correct call." Graham Jenkins reports from the Premiership final
"We wanted to get the rugby spirit across to people, I firmly believe we have been in the thick of it." Tom Hamilton speaks to the ESPN crew on the final live broadcast
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown