- Flanker heartened by England's showings so far
- "We want to be a team that is massively supported by the nation" – Croft
Tom Croft is encouraged by England’s performances in their first three matches of the 2012 RBS 6 Nations and believes that the side are progressing nicely despite the setback of Saturday’s defeat to Wales.
Having won 34 caps for his country, as well as featuring heavily during the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, Croft is among the more experienced members of Stuart Lancaster’s squad and, speaking earlier this week at England's training camp in Loughborough, the flanker seemed pleased.
“Things have been going well,” said the Leicester Tiger. “For a team to come together and gel to this point after just a month is exceptional. It is obviously disappointing to lose at the weekend but we have to take the positives away from that.
“This team will lose games every now and again and it is important how we react to those games and what we learn from them.”
After admitting that the 19-12 result was “mystifying” and “very frustrating” given England’s dominance across large periods of the Test, Croft pinpointed specific areas in which his teammates have impressed.
“Defence has been going very well,” he said. “Our attacking structure hasn’t really come to the forefront but a new layer is being put on every match. I thought against Wales we put them under pressure.
“It was nice to get turnover ball and be able to release our attack. We could create chances in a way we hadn’t before. One mistake can cause you to lose a game at international level though, and, unfortunately, that’s what happened.”
After two tough away matches to start the campaign in Scotland and Italy, Croft continued to describe the happy relief of returning to Twickenham, reiterating Sam Warburton’s praise of a capacity crowd at HQ.
“The atmosphere at Twickenham was the best I have felt for a very long time,” the 26 year-old explained. “Hopefully, that is because of the way we’re playing and the effort that the guys are putting in.
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“When you are working driving the Welsh back and the crowd are getting behind you, it has a massive impact on the side. We want to be a team that is massively supported by the nation. On our behalf, that means aiming towards our potential by playing as hard as we can. If the nation gets behind us, we will only be spurred on.”
England now face the unenviable task of travelling to the Stade de France to take on Les Bleus, who have not lost a home Six Nations tie since 2008. Even so, Croft was evidently determined to derail such a strong record:
“Every game gets bigger and bigger and they all pose a different challenge. It was about building things this week, not beating the drum too early.
“Next week, things will be in place so we can build up slowly into the game so that, on game day, we are firing.”