ENGLAND captain Chris Robshaw has tipped injury-plagued back row Tom Croft to overcome his shoulder problem and come back stronger than ever before, despite his omission from England’s preliminary 50-strong training squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup on home soil. With time to go before coach Stuart Lancaster names his final 31-man unit, there is still time for Croft to regain his ‘indispensible’ tag, although the 29-year-old former Park House School pupil has made just 20 starts for Leicester Tigers in the past three seasons, and his latest ailment - a dislocated shoulder - required surgery to correct nerve damage.
But his worth is unquestionable and Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill had little hesitation in awarding Croft a new contract in April.
So with his future secured, Croft, capped 40 times for England, must now focus all his energy on regaining his fitness in time for the World Cup on home soil this autumn.
And Robshaw does not believe Croft’s recent seasons of disruption will have any lasting detriment to his form.
“Normally he comes back even better than before – he works extremely hard when he is injured – and I’m sure he will be again,” said Robshaw.
“You do feel for Crofty, he has been a little bit unfortunate with his shoulder. He has had a tough couple of years so hopefully his recovery is going well and we can have him back out there as soon as possible.
“You can see it in the way he has always come back before when he has had injuries and setbacks. I think that shows the determination and mentality of the guy.
“He is one of those guys that wants to be out there on the pitch as quickly as possible and he will do everything to make that happen.”
With the Premiership rugby season almost complete, attention will soon turn to the World Cup.
And, with or without Croft, Robshaw believes England have a fine chance to shine in their own backyard.
“I can’t wait, it is very exciting,” he added. “We are almost into camp now and once we are there it will be extremely intense and extremely challenging but it’s a place you want to be.
“The beauty of it is having it in England and to feel that buzz around the whole country, whether it is games in Newcastle, Exeter or Brighton – and of course Twickenham being the hub of it. It is really going to hopefully take the country over.
“We are progressing and we have done a lot recently. You look at the way our attack has taken shape in the last Six Nations campaign and I think that was the biggest thing we really had to add to our boat.
“People say to be successful in the World Cup you have to have a squad. It’s not so much about the XV, it’s about the 30 there and – if injuries happen – the other guys coming in from the training squad who are really going to push on and excel.”
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