Croft in; Farrell out

Mon, 04 Mar 2013 20:46
Large tom croft lions scrum Large owen farrell england Large tom croft on stretcher Large owen farrell kicks Large tom croft leicester

Leicester flank Tom Croft was added to England's training squad, while Owen Farrell is set to miss the encounter with Italy.

Leicester flank Tom Croft was added to England's training squad on Monday ahead of this weekend's Six Nations fixture against Italy, while Owen Farrell is set to miss the Twickenham clash.

Croft has recovered from a serious neck injury which initially looked set to keep him out for the entire Six Nations campaign and, after playing in last weekend's win over Sale, England coach Stuart Lancaster has opted to call up the 27-year-old.

Last April Croft damaged his neck while tackling Harlequins back row Nick Easter and his comeback, which began in January, has been carefully managed since.

The turning point in his rehabilitation came last week when a visit to the specialist revealed the injury had healed completely.

"Tom has been seen by a specialist, played back-to-back games and played 80 minutes at the weekend and did extremely well," said Lancaster, whose side are chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003.

"In consultation with the medical teams and [Leicester Director of Rugby] Richard Cockerill, we've brought him back into the camp. He's available for Italy and Wales.

"It was never a selection decision, always a medical one, making sure he's right physically to come back and play at international level.

"One of the key markers was playing back to back games. That box was ticked when he played 80 minutes on the weekend and played outstandingly well.

"As soon as he was available, we definitely wanted to bring him back into camp and make him available for selection.

"It's great to have him back. He's a British and Irish Lion from 2009 and you saw from his performance at the weekend that he's in form."

Croft, who played all five of last year's Six Nations matches, has 36 caps for England and Lancaster believes his experience could be vital in the final two matches of the tournament.

"Tom is one of our most experienced players who has played at the highest level," Lancaster said.

"When we go back to the Six Nations last year he was outstanding and was a key leader as well as player. He brings a lot.

"It was a serious injury that forced him to miss the South Africa tour, the year-end internationals and now three Six Nations games. He's worked extremely hard to get back to fitness and into contention."

However, Croft's promotion is offset by the loss of Farrell, who was unable to recover from the thigh strain sustained against France, meaning Toby Flood will start against Italy.

"Owen's still got the quad injury which I want to make sure has settled down completely. It's fair to say that you can read into that that Toby Flood will be starting," Lancaster said.

Although he is likely to miss the Italy clash, Lancaster revealed Farrell could return from the injury against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on March 16.

Flood will resume in the number 10 jersey against Italy with Freddie Burns in line to feature on the bench, but number eight Ben Morgan's chances of participating are receding due to his ankle problem.

"Ben and Owen are both unlikely to be available for the game. Ben's still on his return to running program," Lancaster said.

"Owen's still got that quad injury that I want to make sure that has settled down completely.

"You can read into that that Toby Flood will be starting, it's fair to say.

"We're pretty confident that Owen will be fit for next week.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola is expected to train this week after recovering from an ankle problem, but Lancaster doesn't plan to make major changes to his starting line-up.

"There won't be hundreds of changes, we'll keep consistency in selection," he said.

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 14h15 Paris
Fri, 27 April 2018
Munster v Ulster 22h00 Thomond Park
Kings v Cheetahs 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Treviso v Zebre 22h00 Stadio Monigo
Dragons v Scarlets 22h00 Rodney Parade
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Connacht v Leinster 22h00 Sportsground
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 22h00 Sixways
Wasps v Northampton Saints 22h00 Ricoh Arena
London Irish v Saracens 22h00 Madejski Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 22h00 Welford Road
Gloucester v Bath 22h00 Kingsholm
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 22h00 Sandy Park
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
Sharks v Bulls 10 | 40
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1