Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England

Asia's Tech News Daily

Almost four years have passed since Tom Croft announced his retirement from professional rugby, but the former England flanker still bristles with pride when it comes to discussing his Leicester Tigers.

It’s little wonder why considering the club’s rampant start to the 2021/22 Premiership campaign, leading with a perfect return of six wins from six ahead of Saturday’s east midlands derby away to Northampton Saints.

That stellar run has included hard-fought victories over Saracens, London Irish and most recently Sale Sharks, fixtures Croft believes “the Leicester team of two or three years ago would have lost.”

“In all honesty I think it’s a product of what has happened in the last five, six years,” the two-time British and Irish Lions tourist told Mirror Sport.

“It’s been pretty dire in terms of where Leicester were originally, from being in nine straight Premiership finals (2005-13) to floundering at the bottom, and if Sarries hadn’t had their issues [being relegated for multiple salary cap breaches in 2020], we might have potentially been relegated.”

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© Getty Images Tom Croft made 173 appearances for Leicester Tigers across a 12-year career, also earning 40 England caps and being named on two Lions tours (2009-13)

Croft—who was part of four Premiership-winning Leicester teams, including their most recent title triumph in 2013—says a lot of “papering over cracks” has taken place in the years since they last finished at England’s peak.

But the 40-cap former England talisman conceded there were issues that needed solving even prior to beating Saturday’s opponents, Northampton, in that 2013 decider, which director of rugby Steve Borthwick has helped to address.

“You always laugh at people who say: ‘Write Leicester off now, they’ve had their time’,” he added.

“It was always a matter of time until this team just gelled, and with Steve there, he’s changed the processes, how they’re training, the amount of time they spend on the pitch, the intensity. So he’s put his stamp on the team.

“But you can still see that traditional Leicester DNA…you know, London Irish away [a 21-16 win], Sarries [13-12 win], the game against Sale [19-11 win]. The Leicester team of two or three years ago would have lost those games.

“The fact that Leicester DNA is bubbling back to the surface is because we won those games and you’ve got confidence as a fan sitting in the stand that, with 10 minutes to go you could be six points behind, you’re still confident you’re gonna win.

Do you think Northampton Saints can end Leicester Tigers’ unbeaten start to the Premiership season? Let us know in the comments section.

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© Getty Images Steve Borthwick has taken Leicester back to the Premiership summit in only his second full season as head coach

“And that’s what Leicester was when I was coming through, and hopefully it’s heading that way.”

Croft, 35, described Borthwick as a “very astute, intelligent man,” whose task in turning around Leicester’s fortunes is comparable to when he joined Eddie Jones’s set-up as England forwards coach in 2015.

Yet it’s a case of less control—not more—that’s been essential to the Tigers’ recent success, as Croft highlighted the freedom afforded to players like George Ford as being vital to growth.

“Even young players like Freddie Steward, who’s playing because he’s been given almost free rein and the confidence to go and do what he does, and that’s the best thing for a player to improve,” said Croft, who debuted for Leicester just after turning 20 and spent his entire 12-year career at Welford Road.

The former flanker—famed for his turn of pace rarely seen among forwards— was forced to retire prematurely but is revelling in his post-playing career as a land manager for developer Davidsons Homes.

Former England lock Borthwick will undergo arguably the biggest threat to Leicester’s unbeaten streak so far when they visit Franklin’s Gardens.

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© David Rogers/Getty Images Northampton Saints winger Courtnall Skosan scored three tries on his club debut

The Saints are coming off the back of a 66-10 hammering of Worcester Warriors last Friday, when 12-times capped South Africa winger Courtnall Skosan scored a hat-trick of tries on his debut.

Northampton full-back and ex-Leicester academy prospect Tommy Freeman also contributed two second-half scores following his first call-up to England’s squad for games against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.

There, he’ll contend with Leicester counterpart and fellow 20-year-old talent Steward for the Red Rose’s No. 15 jersey, a battle Croft believes would have set the tone on Saturday were it not for their England commitments.

Both teams will have stars unavailable with November’s international slate imminent, players like Tigers hooker Nic Dolly, whom Croft dubbed “amazing” since his arrival earlier in 2021.

“When I first saw him [Dolly] play, I was thinking ‘What’s going on with your hair?'” he joked. “A bit of jealousy because mine’s disappearing, but then he goes and scores two tries on his first start for the club and has obviously continued in that vein.

“Guys like Harry Potter, bar having the most exceptional name which blows my kids’ minds every time they see he’s on TV scoring tries.

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© Getty Images Leicester Tigers are the only team to defeat Saracens this season

“The back row of [Hanro] Liebenberg, [Marco] van Staden and [Jasper] Wiese, you see that on the team sheet and I get excited now.

“I’ve gotten over having to retire, I’m happy with what I’m doing now with work so I’ve got that ability to become a fan. So when you see those guys on the team sheet, as a back-row player you get excited, and I actually wish I could have played with them.”

Croft also picked out 20-year-old scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet, who was “unlucky not to be included in the England set-up,” and “proper club man” Harry Wells—who made his England debut in July aged 27—as symbols of Leicester’s newfound depth.

Having those ‘secondary’ stars available is critical when international duty comes calling, although Tigers fly-half Ford has looked anything but second rate in the early rounds of this Premiership season.

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© Getty Images Tom Croft remains a regular at Welford Road despite retiring as a player in November 2017

While many were stunned to see Vunipola brothers Billy and Mako omitted from Jones’ latest England squad, the absence of in-form Ford was considered by others to be the most glaring.

However, given the apparent contest for England’s 10 jersey that is set to unfold between Marcus Smith and captain Owen Farrell, Croft sees it as a silver lining that Borthwick will keep his star playmaker.

“I’m not actually too fussed because it means Fordy will stay at Leicester during the international periods, and for me, Leicester will always be my bread and butter as a fan,” said Croft, who remains a regular in the stands at his old stomping ground.

“Obviously I watch England with great pleasure, but for Leicester, knowing he’s going to be there—it may change during the Six Nations —but in the autumn, we’ve got a guy there alongside Freddie Burns steering the ship, which is brilliant for the club.”

For now, though, the fight for England’s fly-half duties looks like a straight toss-up between Saracens shot-caller Farrell and Smith, who guided Harlequins to a wildly unexpected Premiership title last term.

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© Getty Images George Ford was considered unlucky not to make England’s autumn squad

World Cup -winning coach Sir Clive Woodward recently railed against rumours suggesting Farrell could move back to inside centre in order to accommodate Smith, though Croft isn’t sure the latter requires the help.

“It’d be great to see Marcus Smith,” he said. “I’m no connoisseur [of fly-halves] and focus on the forwards predominantly, but we’ve seen what Marcus is doing at Harlequins at the moment, he’s an exciting player.

“Whether starting Farrell outside him would act as a bit of a comfort, but to be fair, I think Marcus is perfectly capable of steering the international ship, and I don’t think he necessarily needs him there.

“Who knows what Eddie will do? I would like to see Marcus there, even if it was Australia for the first Test, I’d still like to see Marcus given his shot. . .it would be nice to see him there regardless of who we play first—obviously it is Tonga, but if he plays well, there’s no reason not to start him against South Africa or Australia.”

Tom Croft on Leicester Tigers restoring their DNA and backing Marcus Smith for England
© The RFU Collection via Getty Images Marcus Smith has received Tom Croft’s backing to excel for England

Croft underlined familiarity as “the biggest thing that causes success for a club,” so using the clash against Tonga on November 6 is a grand opportunity to get settled with any new-look line-up.

The Pacific Island nation should by no means be viewed as easy prey or a chance to experiment, however, a stance Croft considers “a bit disrespectful,” and the kind of viewpoint that leads to surprise results.

“Looking at it from the other side of the coin, Tonga are more than capable of coming to Twickenham and putting on a performance and causing a massive upset,” he warned.

“We’ve seen it many times with Japan [beating South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup], for example, causing upsets where they’re playing against a perceived Tier 1 team and rock the boat. Imagine if that happened!”

A full complement of five Leicester players will be in England’s squad attempting to ensure that isn’t the case, making the Premiership leaders the most heavily represented club at Jones’ disposal.

That in itself is a “direct reflection,” Croft argues, of the strides Borthwick and his players have made as the Tigers return to the top, ready to once again rule the roost at both club level and in the international arena.

BT Sport is the home of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The 2021/22 season continues with a weekend full of games, including Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints live on BT Sport 1 at 3pm on Saturday 30th October. Find out more information on how to watch at BT Sport .

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


'Seriously!?' Viewers are left baffled by woke smoking warning displayed at the start of The Beatles: Get Back docuseries on Disney+

The programmes open with a warning about 'explicit language, mature themes and smoking'The Beatles: Get Back is streaming now on Disney + Read more »

Police launch murder investigation after body of girl, 16, was found at Scottish beauty spot two days after she vanished

Amber Gibson was last seen in Hamilton on Friday night having left her homeHer body was recovered on Sunday morning in a local beauty spot Police Scotland said they re treating the youngster's death as murder   Read more »

Pacers' Justin Holiday in COVID-19 protocols, out several games

Pacers wing Justin Holiday has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). Agness adds that Holiday will be sidelined for at least ... Read more »

How Anthony Albanese ruthlessly trolled Scott Morrison with a basket of VERY carefully chosen Christmas gifts for Kmart Wishing Tree charity appeal

Political leaders from four biggest parties donated gifts to Salvation Army Anthony Albanese's gifts handed over in Parliament trolled the Prime MinisterHe handed over an Eiffel Tower puzzle, a solar windmill and a fire truckThe gifts were presented as part of the Christmas Kmart Wishing Tree appeal  Read more »

China wants Australia 'driven to its knees' warns US president's top Asia policy advisor

 China aims to ‘drive Australia to its knees’ but should eventually realise it would be hurting itself by doing so, a key advisor to US President Joe Biden says. Addressing ... Read more »

Ilhan Omar says Lauren Boebert once asked her if she should register as a 'foreign agent' and plays voicemail calling her a 'sand n-word b**** in press conference on 'Jihad Squad' attacks

Rep. Ilhan Omar revealed Tuesday night that Rep. Lauren Boebert once asked her if she should register as a ‘foreign agent’ as she condemned the Colorado Republican for her ‘Jihad ... Read more »

Video: Biden insists he's 'surprised not a single Republican is joining us' to support his $1.85trillion tax and spending plan that he claims will reduce inflation, is fully paid for and won't raise taxes on anyone earning more than $400,000 

Read more »

Fauci's a big shot! Embattled COVID tsar is joined by Barack Obama for surprise visit to Washington elementary DC school to meet students getting jabbed and encourage child vaccinations

Dr. Anthony Fauci and former President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Kimball Elementary School in D.C. to aid in COVID vaccination efforts The leaders aimed to fight the stigma surrounding coronavirus vaccines 'Nobody really loves getting a shot. I don't love getting a shot. But I do it because it's going to help keep me healthy,' Obama told the crowdFauci reminded families the shots will keep their kids healthy and schools openBoth encouraged Americans to express their concerns about the vaccines with a trusted doctor or medical professionalThe vaccine rally came just hours after Kentucky Senator Rand Paul slammed Fauci over his hour-long Sunday interview on CBS News Fauci dismissed his GOP critics as 'anti-science' and name-checked Paul Paul accused Fauci of believing that he's 'the great and powerful Oz'The other senator named in Fauci's interview is Texas Republican Ted Cruz  Read more »

A £500m plan to boost social care staff is on the way as 40,000 staff leave sector in just six months

Health minister Gillian Keegan will unveil ten-year plan for social careThere will be £500million earmarked for 'workforce development'The white paper is called 'People at the heart of care'   Read more »

Video: Experts say it is too early to worry about the Omicron variant in the US - but that people should still take precautions to protect themselves from the new strain AND the Delta variant 

Read more »

Awkward moment Simon Baker admits he's NEVER watched The Devil Wears Prada despite starring in the movie - insisting he simply 'hasn't found the time'

Simon Baker has admitted he’s never watched The Devil Wears Prada, despite starring in the iconic film 15 years ago.  Appearing on Tuesday’s Today show, the Australian actor, 52, appeared ... Read more »

Kendall Jenner's 818 Tequila launches limited-edition merchandise to help support 'sustainability efforts' and 'rural Mexican communities'

Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila dropped a limited edition merchandise collection to help support ‘sustainability efforts’ and ‘rural Mexican communities’ where her tequila is made. ‘Instead of a traditional merch drop, ... Read more »

Video: She's baaaack! The Block's controversial contestant Tanya Guccione shows off her cleavage in a sexy leopard swimsuit

Read more »

Video: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and daughter North sit front row at Louis Vuitton's re-presentation of late designer Virgil Abloh's final collection in Miami, Florida

Read more »

Video: Bye bye Barbados: Prince Charles leaves the Caribbean nation after its first day as a republic that saw Rihanna collect her surprise National Hero award

Read more »

Brian Laundrie's parents Chris and Roberta are SELLING their Florida home which was besieged by journalists and Gabby Petito supporters: 'For Sale' sign is erected days after it was revealed Laundrie shot himself dead

Brian Laundrie's parents Chris, 62, and Roberta, 55, are selling their North Porth, Florida home A 'for sale' sign was seen on the front lawn following the announcement that Laundrie had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head The Laundrie home had previously been swarmed with reporters during the search for Gabby Petito, 22, and after her body was foundBrian Laundrie, 23, had disappeared from the home during the search and his remains were later found in October in a Florida park He shot himself dead, the Laundrie family lawyers disclosed last week  The family's lawyer Steve Bertolino has denied Laundrie's parents' involvement in both the deaths of their son and Petito The home, which sits on a 10,000 square foot lot, is estimated to be sold somewhere between $210,000 and $340,000 Read more »

Armed forces will recruit HIV-positive troops for the first time in history after lifting ban

Military personnel with an HIV-positive diagnosis will be recognised as fully fitPreviously they had been barred from frontline service over medication accessThe changes were based on scientific advances, according to defence sourcesLeo Docherty, minister for Defence People and Veterans, said he was 'delighted' Read more »

BREAKING NEWS: Health Minister Greg Hunt to 'quit politics' after 20 years and the Covid pandemic, report claims

Greg Hunt will quit politics at the election, according to the Australian Financial Review.  Greg Hunt will quit politics at the election, according to a report Read more »

Lecturers who walk out on strike today leaving millions of students disadvantaged have been captured by their 'hard left' campaigners with ‘unrealistic' pension demands, university chiefs say

Universities UK said leftist lecturers from union had undermined negotiationsThousands of university lecturers are set to strike for up to three days from todayThe staff members from 58 universities are in two disputes over pension and pay  Read more »

Britney Spears says she's 'on the right medication' following end of conservatorship

Britney Spears revealed that she’s on new medication and loving the way she feels now that her conservatorship has ended. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny announced earlier ... Read more »

Britney Spears celebrates being on the ‘right medication' after conservatorship ends

Britney Spears celebrates being on the ‘right medication’ after conservatorship ends Britney Spears is celebrating being on the “right medication” at last. The singer has been posting recently about life ... Read more »

Coupe du monde 2022 : les supporters LGBTQ+ seront en sécurité promet le Qatar

Le président du comité d’organisation de la Coupe du monde 2022 a promis un bon accueil des supporters LGBTQ+ au Qatar. © Icon Sport Coupe du monde 2022 au Qatar ... Read more »

Ballon d'Or : Thomas Müller réagit à la victoire de Lionel Messi

Privé du Ballon d’Or, Robert Lewandowski doit se contenter de la deuxième place du classement. Thomas Müller, son coéquipier, a réagi. © Icon Sport Thomas Müller et Robert Lewandowski Privé ... Read more »

Les notes de l'épisode 13 de Koh-Lanta

© Fournis par Sofoot « Ils ont pris un sacré coup les 2b3 » Dernier conseil de classe avant l’orientation, un enfer pour les cancres dans un nouvel épisode à ... Read more »

Leeds : Marcelo Bielsa tire la sonnette d'alarme

Présent en conférence de presse, Marcelo Bielsa a confié ses inquiétudes concernant l’avenir du football. © Icon Sport Marcelo Bielsa Présent en conférence de presse, Marcelo Bielsa a confié ses ... Read more »

Atlético Madrid : la révélation de l'année en Serie A a refusé les Colchoneros cet été !

L’Atlético Madrid a tenté de recruter un talent de Serie A. Mais ce dernier a refusé. © Icon Sport Dusan Vlahovic L’Atlético Madrid a tenté de recruter un talent de ... Read more »

OL : une légende des Gones sur le point de raccrocher les crampons ?

Un ancien attaquant de l’Olympique Lyonnais pourrait bientôt prendre sa retraite. Ce joueur a porté le maillot des Gones pendant quatre saisons. © Icon Sport OL Un ancien attaquant de ... Read more »

Giants “Expected” To Be Without Starting QB Daniel Jones This Weekend

© Provided by The Spun Daniel Jones drops back to pass. Daniel Jones is unlikely to play this Sunday when the Giants take on the Miami Dolphins out of the ... Read more »

Jags continues to fall in the USA TODAY Sports NFL power rankings

After a win over the Buffalo Bills three weeks ago, things seemed to be looking up in Jacksonville. Though the team sat at just 2-6, it had won two of ... Read more »

Notre Dame could be penalized by CFP for Brian Kelly leaving

Brian Kelly may have hurt Notre Dame in more ways than one by leaving them for LSU. © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports Notre Dame is 11-1 and ranked No. 6 ... Read more »

Aaron Rodgers suggests Packers' coaches and other employees may be leaking his medical information to media

An interesting part of Aaron Rodgers’ regular appearance on The Pat McAfee Show (with McAfee and A.J. Hawk, seen at left and right of Rodgers above) on SiriusXM and YouTube ... Read more »

Diversity in personnel makes Michigan's offense difficult to prepare for

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One of the unheralded aspects of the Michigan offense is that you really never know on a weekly basis who’s going to shine. © Provided by Wolverines ... Read more »

Having fully turned focus to Iowa, Michigan still taking each game at a time

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan football fan base is anxious, not necessarily because of the challenge Iowa presents — and it does present a challenge — but because these are ... Read more »

Tom Brady's message to Jim Harbaugh will have Michigan football fans fired up

After beating Ohio State, Michigan football coach received a message from Wolverine legend Tom Brady that is sure to galvanize the Maize and Blue Faithful. © Provided by Fansided Michigan ... Read more »

Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson nursing ankle injury, misses second straight practice

Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson had the second 100-yard game of his career against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving, but it came at a price. Wilson suffered an ankle injury ... Read more »

Mock draft watch: Breaking down The Athletic's latest haul for the Lions

It’s no surprise that most, if not all, media outlets project the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions to hold the number-one overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. © Provided by Lions ... Read more »

Sean Payton won't commit to Saints starting QB vs. Cowboys; Taysom Hill says he's ready to play

The New Orleans Saints may be bracing for a starting quarterback change this week. That is, if Taysom Hill is ready to go.  © Provided by CBS Sports Sep 29, ... Read more »

RB Jonathan Ward lands on COVID list after positive test

The Arizona Cardinals will have to deal with COVID-19 again. Following the holiday weekend and their Week 12 bye, running back Jonathan Ward tested positive for the virus and was ... Read more »

Star College Football Quarterback Reportedly Enters Transfer Portal

College football’s transfer portal just added a star quarterback out of the Mountain West. © Provided by The Spun Fresno State’s college football stadium. Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener has ... Read more »

Betting Lines Released For Current CFB Playoff Matchups

If the College Football Playoff match-ups were played tonight, No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Alabama would be big favorites over No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Cincinnati. © Provided ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic