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Go-to man Crane more than worthy of acclaim

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For a guy with footballer blond hair and white boots, it seems odd that Jordan Crane should be acknowledged most for the unseen work that goes into a successful rugby team.

Crane has described himself as “Richard Cockerill’s worst nightmare” with an image representing the polar opposite of anything the Tigers boss played alongside in the Leicester pack, but he has been an invaluable member of that front eight for a full decade.
Now that he has announced a departure from the club this summer, fans will recall his winning try in a Premiership Final against London Irish, the pushover scores from the scrum – including a hat-trick against Treviso at Welford Road – and the finish for a try against Clermont Auvergne, while the winning kick in the shoot-out against Cardiff Blues back in 2009 goes down in rugby history as well as Tigers legend.
And while opportunities have been limited this year, Crane has still played his part, including a key role in the Telusa Veainu try at Gloucester which was a contender for try of the season – providing support in attack, carrying purposefully, showing an awareness of what’s around him, tying in the last defender and throwing a dummy before the scoring pass. It may not have been typical of his work but it provided another illustration of the part he has played for a full decade.
For all of the ‘gloss’ and the headline moments, though, Crane will be more valued by those around him for the weekly grind and graft of a player whose job has not always been a particularly attractive one.
Those closest to him have the best view and there are not many of his team-mates over those 10 years who will doubt Crane’s ability or attitude. As a leader, with or without the captaincy, he has also shown his strengths again and again.
When ball needed to be carried into the heart of the opposition to establish a platform or release the pressure on defence, Crane would be there to do it. And do it time and time again.

Breaching the gainline and retaining the ball are fundamental parts of the game and, while Crane is no Tom Croft or Steve Mafi in terms of pace, his colleagues have always been aware that when it comes to taking ball up, good or bad ball, brick wall opposite or not, he will do it, allowing team-mates to reload and go again.
If the opposition responded in similar style, the blue scrum cap would be there, making the hits to stop them. His work in defence seemed to get better and stronger as his experience grew.
Cockers has acknowledged that his No8 has come in for criticism from sections of the support, but for a long time he was one of the first names on the teamsheet. In the style of a Louis Deacon or a Marcos Ayerza or a Dan Cole – legends all – he accepted his role and did it consistently for the good of the team around him. If Crane fulfilled his role then others could get on with theirs.
The Tig believes a perfect illustration can be gained from that win at Gloucester this season. Although his part in the Veainu try was Jordan's most eye-catching contribution of the season, the game was actually won not by that score but by his decisive intervention as the clock hit 80 minutes. Crane reacted instantly to a Gloucester player hitting the floor on halfway and, rather than allow the hosts another opportunity to snatch victory, he got in over the ball and won a penalty which allowed Tigers to close out an anxious one-point win.

Those moments are quickly forgotten among the tries and the titles, but they are every bit as important in the bigger picture.
If you look at the long-term holders of that No8 shirt, it has been occupied for the best part of the last 30 years by just three men – Dean Richards, Martin Corry and Jordan Crane. There can be no better compliment to the guy as we wish him well for the future.
Congratulations on a great decade Jordan and all the very best for the future. The Tig will be looking for you at the five-metre scrum in the blue of Bristol next season.