Croft: Injury put me in "dark places"
January 8, 2013
Tom Croft played 50 minutes in his comeback game against Worcester last week © PA Photos
Leicester and England flanker Tom Croft has admitted he had to negotiate some "dark place" on his nine-month recovery from a neck injury.
The 27-year-old made his comeback for Leicester in their 31-26 Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester on Friday after undergoing neck surgery last April.
It followed a protracted recovery period for the flanker, which saw him miss England's summer tour to South Africa as well as their autumn internationals against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
"In all honesty, I have thought no further than Worcester," he told the Leicester Mercury. "It was just about getting through the game unscathed. I have been back and forth to dark places the last nine months, especially in the early months, and then coming back from recovery and thinking about playing.
"The last two-to-three months, I have just been thinking about this first game. Firstly, will I survive it? I've ticked that box - and, secondly, getting back to how I was playing before I got injured. So my thoughts haven't really gone further than that.
"It's a broken bone at the end of the day, and all you can do is as your told medically. You give it rest when it needs rest and, when you can start to build things up again, you can. I was hoping to be back November-December time, but scans showed otherwise.
"That was probably the most frustrating thing. The first sixth months you kind of accept, in terms of the severity of the injury, the last two months you are just saying 'am I ready, am I ready?' and you just keep getting pulled back.
"So it was nice to finally go over that threshold and play the game and come through."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has already played down the prospect of Croft featuring for England in their Six Nations campaign, which starts on February 2. And the Tigers flanker is happy to adhere to his coach's plans for his comeback.
"It's down to Cockers in terms of selection," he said. "We have got two massive games coming up. It's up to the coaches where they think I'm at. I trust their judgement. Obviously, there is still room to improve fitness."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside