Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Croft hails Lions fairytale

03rd May 2013 08:10


Tom Croft of the Lions 2009

Ecstatic: Tom Croft

Leicester and England flanker Tom Croft has described his selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia as a "fairytale".

Croft suffered a serious neck injury that left him close to paralysis a year ago playing for the Tigers, but has battled back to full fitness and played a role in the Six Nations with England.

Having done enough to be selected by Warren Gatland and his coaching staff, the 27-year old cannot believe his luck.

"It is just unreal. A year ago I broke my neck so, to be able to come back and be selected for the Lions, is just a fairytale, without sounding too cheesy and corny," said Croft to the Leicester Mercury.

"It hasn't sunk in. I'm absolutely ecstatic. And I am made up that I've got my mates along with me this time."

"I genuinely never thought I would be in contention. I came back playing at the end of the Six Nations and was still trying to find my feet."

"Hopefully, I can take some of that experience [from 2009], but all the guys selected have massive experience in Test-match rugby, playing in huge games and World and Heineken Cups. No-one will be out of their depth."

Croft will be one six players from Leicester Tigers to tour with the Lions next month, including the Youngs brothers Ben and Tom, lock Geoff Parling, tighthead prop Dan Cole and centre Manu Tuilagi.

"It just shows how well the club looks after its players and the types of characters it brings through," added Croft.

"Look at Tom Youngs and how well they have brought him through from centre to hooker. He is now the club's starting hooker, England's starting hooker and a Lions tourist.

"And who would have thought that skinny guy Geoff Parling from Newcastle would play for the Lions? He absolutely fully deserves a call-up, as do the rest of the boys."