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Cockerill: Croft ready for England duty

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill believes flanker Tom Croft is ready for England duty after an outstanding performance in his side's hammering of Sale.

Croft was making only his fifth start since returning on January 4 from a neck operation, which kept him out for nine months, and the 48-10 Aviva Premiership win at Welford Road was the first time he had played back-to-back games.

Cockerill said: "He is a good enough player to go and play. He has played two full games now and if England needed him I'm sure he would be ready to go and do a job."

He added: "Tom's attitude has been outstanding and he has used the time when he has not been playing to deal with his contact work and his conditioning. With 15 minutes to go he was wanting a bit of oxygen but he works to the maximum all the time."

Asked whether Croft could make the Lions tour, Cockerill said: "It depends how we play to the end of the season.

"If we keep ourselves in the play-off mix and we go to Toulon (in the Heineken Cup) and Tom is outstanding in that company, there is an opportunity for him to go on the Lions tour."

"I'd have no hesitation in saying that Tom is ready to go and play a Test match next week. He has worked really hard and been patient and we are now getting the rewards."

Sale's director of rugby Steve Diamond knows his side need to improve dramatically if they want to escape relegation.

He said: "We are really disappointed with the performance.

"We came here with what we thought was a competitive side and were drilled. I don't know why. Sometimes it happens. We have to look at ourselves and regroup."


From Belfast Telegraph