England and Leicester have both been dealt a major blow with news that influential forward Tom Croft will not play again this season.
Croft damaged his knee in Sunday’s Premiership win against Worcester, and Tigers boss Richard Cockerill confirmed via Rob Wildman of the Daily Mail the player had surgery on Tuesday to correct anterior cruciate ligament damage.
Tom had a bang on the knee at the weekend. We felt it was relatively innocuous but after further investigation the ACL was ruptured and he has had surgery to reconstruct it and that’s his season finished.
It’s horrendous bad luck for Tom because it is only last year that he came back from a very bad neck injury and did so well (not only) for England but the Lions as well.
But these things happen. Tom will make a full recovery but it’s his season over. It’s a blow but we have just got to get on with things.
Amazingly, Croft played on with the injury for a few minutes ahead of the final whistle, but he will now focus on what promises to be a long bout of rehabilitation.
The layoff will not be a foreign experience to Croft, who spent eight months recovering from a broken neck, from which he eventually returned in January of this year, per ESPNscrum.
Such is the flanker’s talent that he fought his way back onto the international scene in time for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia, a series in which he started the first Test en route to a famous 2-1 triumph.
His absence will be a huge void for Leicester to fill at club level, while England boss Stuart Lancaster will rue Croft’s absence ahead of the autumn internationals.
Intensity and agility were two of the buzz words during last year's autumn schedule, which saw England chalk up a thrilling win over the world's best side: New Zealand.
Croft brings everything to the pack that Lancaster believes in—pace, power, ball-carrying ability and mobility around the pitch—so his loss will be felt by the England squad.
Leicester boss Cockerill added that England fly-half Toby Flood will miss Saturday’s league clash with Bath. Flood is still suffering with concussion, picked up in a preseason game.
Elsewhere, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi continue their bids to avoid shoulder injuries, which date back to the Lions tour.