Tom Croft: Leicester and England flanker learns to be positive

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Tom Croft
Croft says he has focused on coming back better and stronger during an injury-hit couple of seasons

Leicester and England flanker Tom Croft says a positive mindset has helped him overcome prolonged injury problems.

Having suffered a broken neck over two years ago, Croft missed most of last season with a knee injury.

But he could make his first start in a year this weekend at Exeter, after withdrawing from the game against Newcastle with a shoulder niggle.

"If I'm required I'll be mad for it," the 28-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live. "It's getting a bit frustrating now."

In April 2012, Croft broke his neck in a Premiership match with Harlequins at the Stoop, but believes that experience has helped him deal with setbacks.

"After that, I learnt you have to be positive," said Croft, who has only made 14 appearances for Tigers since the start of the 2012/13 season. "There are not many injuries that are worse than that, apart from going the full way and not playing any more.

Tom Croft
Croft was born in Basingstoke but went to school in Rutland
He made his Leicester Tigers debut in 2005 and has now played 129 times for the club
International recognition first came for the England Saxons in 2007 with his full England debut coming a year later.
Croft has played 36 times for the national side and also represented the British and Irish Lions on five occasions.

"You can always sit there in the physio room moping around and moaning, but that's not going to help your recovery.

"Or you can put a positive spin on it; get stronger, and come back better when you actually do return to playing."

Although he made a full recovery from the neck injury, Croft missed the autumn internationals and the Six Nations last season after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in Leicester's match against Worcester on the opening weekend.

He returned to come off the bench in the final round of the Premiership campaign against Saracens in May, but that was too late to be considered for England's summer tour of New Zealand.

However, inbetween the neck and knee injuries, Croft was selected for his second Lions tour - and he played a major part in two of the Test matches against Australia.

"There is always something to aim for," he continued. "In terms of England, there's autumn and the Six Nations, and longer-term the World Cup. But that's a long way off for me. All I'm focusing on is getting back and helping the club."

Tom Croft being taken off on a stretcher against Harlequins in 2012
Tom Croft injured his neck against Harlequins in 2012 and was out for eight months

And although he is aware of what is coming up over the next twelve months, the highs and lows of the last couple of seasons have made him reluctant to look too far ahead.

"I think that's why a lot of people aren't thinking about the autumn, and the Six Nations and further than that," he added. "Because you might not make it that far. It's about thinking of the here and now."