- Captain “honoured, buzzing and ready to go” for Saxons
- Five new caps in starting line-up for Wolfhounds clash
Jordan Crane will pull on an England Saxons shirt for the first time in two seasons in Ireland on Friday night and admits: “I’m as excited as I was when I first got called up.”
The Leicester Tigers No.8 was added to the Saxons training group on Sunday night to replace Billy Vunipola, who is with England’s senior side in Leeds.
Photo: Getty Images
The 26-year-old goes straight into the team and has been handed the responsibility of captaining the side when they face an experienced O2 Ireland Wolfhounds team at the Sportsground in Galway.
Crane captained the Saxons to wins over the USA, Tonga and Canada in the 2011 Churchill Cup before knee reconstruction ruled him out for the whole of the 2011-12 campaign.
He returned this season to help lead Leicester into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup following last weekend’s 9-5 win over Toulouse and his Tigers’ teammates Graham Kitchener, Ed Slater and George Ford are all involved in Friday night’s Saxons outing.
“I’m delighted to be back in the set up,” said Crane.
“It’s been a long time off with injury, trying to get back playing and remember what you do, particularly when you’ve been off for as long as I was, so it’s great to be back in and I’m just buzzing and ready to go.
“I just can’t wait. It’s good to be coming into a different environment again. I’ve been involved with the Saxons before and different England squads and I’m just as excited as when I first got called up when I was 20. I’m only 26, I’ve been around a while and this is a big opportunity for me.”
The Saxons will field a side with an average age of 23 with five starters – Elliot Daly (London Wasps), George Ford (Leicester Tigers) and Saracens trio Joel Tomkins, George Kruis and Will Fraser – all making their first appearances at this level.
Crane added: “We’ve got some quality young lads and a few experienced guys who’ll be looking to put a marker down as well. The Saxons team is traditionally quite young and exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing them play. We’ve got plenty of speed in the backs and some big old forwards to get over the gain line so if it all goes right it should be a pretty exciting game.
“Captaining your country is a massive honour. I’ve done it before but to be called back in and given that responsibility is great for me. I’ve captained Leicester a fair few times this season so it’s going to be no different for my game.
“With the club we’re rumbling along now and the win at the weekend was a massive highlight of our season, especially to do it at Welford Road.
“We were delighted to get the win and the way we dogged it out was pretty impressive. The conditions didn’t suit free-flowing rugby and Leicester was pretty bad for snow but the noise the crowd made was immense; they probably made the difference.”