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Crane adds experience to Saxons set-up

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Skipper Jordan Crane says he feels like one of the 'older heads' in a young England Saxons squad looking for victory in the Churchill Cup.

Leicester Tigers No.8 Crane led the Saxons to a tournament record 87-8 victory over the USA last Saturday and is now looking forward to a match against Tonga at Gloucester on Sunday.

With Luke Narraway – captain when the squad was announced – ruled out by a back injury, Crane will assume leadership duties again this weekend.

“I’m probably one of the more experienced players in this squad at 25,” says Crane. “It’s a very young squad and you can feel quite old!

“It’s an easy team to captain, everyone is going well at the moment and we’re just looking forward to the Tonga game. They beat the Americans on Wednesday and they looked pretty good too.

“They are pushing towards the World Cup and it is definitely going to be a big challenge.”

The Saxons ran in 11 tries in their opening fixture and impressed coach Stuart Lancaster with their desire to keep the pressure on their opponents and maintain their structure.

“In previous Churchill Cups we might have beaten the American team by 20 or 30 points when we could have put them to the sword,” says Crane.

“But on Saturday we stuck to our plan, we played our game and we weren’t tempted to start playing Sevens rugby. We played some good stuff, we created chances and we scored tries. The skill level was really good all the way through the game. They are all real positives for the squad.

“The coaches have been pleased with us so far. It is at the end of a long season for the guys but the coaches are trying to keep everyone as fresh as possible, they know what is needed and know when to ease off and when to put on a harder session, and it is going well.”

Tonga beat the USA 44-13 in midweek and the Tigers back-rower expects a big contest at Kingsholm.

“We know Tonga will be a big physical battle and we need to be more physical than we were against the USA,” Crane said.

“Our backline was pretty good last weekend and it’s exciting for English rugby to see the guys coming through. Alex Goode, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees, Rory Clegg – they’re all really good players.

“It’s exciting for England to have these guys coming through the system and I hope we can give them all as much experience as possible to make the step up.”