Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Croft relaxed over Lions news

Tom Croft admits being included in the Lions squad "would mean the world"

Some will have a sleepless night in anticipation of the British and Irish Lions squad announcement, but Tom Croft says it will be business as usual at Leicester.

The 27-year-old forward is expected to be included in the 38-man touring party for the tour to Hong Kong and Australia, little more than 12 months after a mis-timed tackle left him with a broken neck.

"I'm sure there will be a few boys going to bed tonight a bit nervous and looking forward to what comes tomorrow," Croft told Press Association Sport at an event promoting SSE Rugby Energy. "(But) players don't expect to be in. It's more an honour when you are selected. You're not gutted if you're not involved, but it's always nice to be."

With Leicester's pursuit of a home Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final continuing against London Irish on Saturday, Croft does not expect Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill to alter his preparations to accommodate a session watching television as the Lions squad is unveiled.

Perhaps Croft's attitude is shaped by the injury which occurred against Harlequins last spring and he would happily tour Argentina with England if coach Warren Gatland omits him from the Lions squad.

"I said when I did my neck I'd hopefully target the England summer tour and that still hasn't changed," he added. "That's still what I'm targeting, but if anything comes above that, brilliant. It would mean the world. It would be absolutely massive, but it's not come into my head at all."

Or perhaps his attitude that selection would be an honour and a bonus is because Croft missed out on initial selection for the 2009 tour to South Africa, only to belatedly be called up when Alan Quinlan was banned for eye-gouging.

Having been at the training ground when he discovered he had missed out, Croft received a phone call from Lions head coach Ian McGeechan prior to the 2009 Heineken Cup final after Quinlan's ban.

"It was the Wednesday before we played Leinster in the Heineken Cup final," Croft said.

"McGeechan called me up and I thought it was a wind-up; I thought it was one of the boys putting on a very impressive accent. It did take a little while to sink in and it didn't really sink in until after the game that weekend."

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