Tom Croft will be writing a regular column for The Rugby Blog, thanks to the RFU’s National Community Partner, SSE Rugby – here’s the first instalment.
You’ll be pleased to know that I’m back in training now, which is great news. I’m a few weeks off playing yet but the recovery is going well and it’s a case of waiting until my neck’s strong enough to get back into game mode. It’s one of those injuries that has to be 100 per cent right.
I had three fractures on one of my vertebrae which had to be fused with a plate and screws, and a few other bits needed cleaning up as well. I’ve got a fair bit of scaffolding in there now but they did a good job and it should be stronger than before, which is reassuring.
I’ll be building things up over the next few weeks and seeing how I feel about going back into full contact. There’ll be a bit of bag work first and then some light tackles, so it’s all about building things up slowly and then it’ll be nice to get out on the field and play.
It’s not the sort of thing you can fly straight back into, though, because you’re almost working up from grass roots again. You can’t just do 100 tackles a week, you have to build things up over a period of time, get back into tackling and see how the body feels.
There’s a psychological element to cross as well. With any injury you’re always a bit wary of that area, but with a neck that’s the first thing you go into contact with. When I first did it I thought about it a little bit, but it’s healed up well so I’ve got no real reason to worry. It’s about building up confidence about going into contact, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
It was frustrating not being with England in South Africa, but I watched the games and it was nice to see us go well. It’s probably the best test any side could have, going away for three very tough Test matches and coming up against a style of rugby which is very direct.
South Africa got the upper hand at the start but we kept coming back and really pushed them. It was a good experience for the guys and with England coming up against teams like that again in November, they are fully aware of what style to expect.
I’m not involved this autumn but Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand is a great run of games for England to have. All four games will be very physical and it’ll be a stiff test for the boys, but at the same time it’s a good test as well. You don’t want to be playing against weaker sides, you want to be playing against the best to find out where you are.
The goal is to be in the top four in the world, top two or whatever, but it’s also about this England team developing and if we pick up the odd loss, we need to learn from it quickly.
Hopefully I’ll be back on the pitch soon and when I do I’ll be in my best nick for a long time. There’s a silver lining to injuries sometimes and although it’s obviously been a frustrating period, I’ve had a fair amount of time to work on other areas of my body.
I was at the club from the day after the Premiership final and it’s been tough in that respect, but I did manage to get time off to visit Greece, Spain and New York as well. Getting away from the club was important and I’m now fully refreshed and ready to go!
All the best… Tom
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