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Croft praises Tigers after England call

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Tom Croft earned a place on England's summer tour to New Zealand on Tuesday morning and immediately paid tribute to the support he has received from Leicester Tigers.

Croft joined Tigers team-mate Ben Kay in Martin Johnson’s first national selection and the 22-year-old has once again emphasised the impact that Tigers have had on his career so far.

“Everything I’ve learnt in my professional career has been thanks to Leicester Tigers,” said Croft, who is part of a 32-man squad for the two-Test series against the All Blacks.

“Everything England have picked up on has been given to me from here by coaches like Richard Cockerill, Neil Back and Marcelo Loffreda. I owe a great deal to the club and, if hadn’t have come here, I might not be in the position I’m in now.”

Croft’s rise to the national squad has been somewhat spectacular but the back row player will have no difficulty keeping his feet on the ground.

“It’s been a roller coaster of a season. I never thought I’d be involved with England in the Six Nations. My aim this year was to get involved with the Saxons so to be pushed up to senior level was more than I could ever have asked for.

“I’m still not a regular with Leicester so to have an involvement with England again after the Six Nations is fantastic. It’s what I was hoping would happen.

“It’s something I always wanted to do when I was growing up playing rugby. To get three caps in my first Six Nations was amazing, but to be recalled for the following tour gives you a bit more confidence that you’re the sort of player England want. I hope I can build on that.”

Despite the tour being less than three weeks away, Croft insists his focus is on nothing other than Tigers’ Guinness Premiership semi-final against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Sunday.

“Luckily we’ve scraped back into the top four of the Premiership and we’ve got a big game at the weekend against Gloucester. The England tour is a few weeks away yet. We’ve got a massive game on Sunday and, if we don’t win that, that’s us done. We’ve worked hard to get into the top four and we’ve got to finish the job off now.”