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Can't keep a good man down

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Well done Tom Croft, back from a serious injury, back to form and back in the England squad.

Yes, we all grumble at times when we see how many Tigers have been drafted into national colours, especially when their fixtures clash with ours. But you cannot begrudge a young man his opportunity, especially when they have come through the trauma Crofty has experienced in his last 12 months.

While a London hospital thought the neck injury suffered at Harlequins last season was not serious on initial inspection, Crofty ended up having major surgery, a selection of metalwork added to hold it together and eight months away from the game. Sounds bad enough, but he has revealed it could have been worse, a lot worse, with the severity of a neck injury having potentially life-changing consequences let alone game-changing ones.

Cockers and the management have been patient and full of praise for Croft’s attitude to his recovery, the specialists have looked after the timetable of his return, and now we’ve welcomed him back.

It is impossible to appreciate what it must have been like for Crofty approaching that first contact session, or running on to the pitch for the first time, knowing a big hit was just an instant away.

He’s always been known as a gifted athlete but as a back-rower Croft also has to make his presence felt in all contact situations, neck injury or not, at the tackle, maul, ruck and set-piece. When you’re as quick as Crofty, it’s pretty difficult to get out of doing that work too!

His gradual, managed return shows his importance as a player, and his form in the opening minutes of last Saturday’s win over Sale showed all of his values, from the first-minute catch and charge to the lineout superiority and his work over the ball. To lead the team as captain and collect his cap and tie after his 100th start for the club added to the story.

The cheeky grin and the good humour he showed in receiving the congratulations of colleagues and crowd showed he’s also enjoying himself again. That’s just the way it should be too, in an England shirt possibly for the next couple of weeks and in Tigers colours for the rest of the season.