Thursday, 16 May 2013

If Tom Croft raced Bryan Habana...

Few flankers know their art more thoroughly than Leicester Tigers' Julian Salvi.  And the Aussie is backing his rangy, rapid backrow colleague Tom Croft to cause mayhem among the Wallabies when the British & Irish Lions head Down Under.
“Tom Croft is a supreme athlete," Salvi told me. "He is a freak of nature who is tough in all areas.
“He will hold the edges really well and if you give him space he can act as another back.
“That style of rugby is great in the Southern Hemisphere because it’s about chucking the ball around.
“With Tom Croft in the team you have a guy who can expose the Australians. The hard tracks are going to be really great for him."
The following clip suggests there is more than a semblance of wisdom in Salvi's words. In fact, geek that I am, I used a stopwatch to time how long it takes Croft to get from the halfway line to dot the ball down against Quins: 5.30 seconds. Welford Road is not the longest pitch in the world, but that is very, very rapid. And Croft doesn't run straight because of the covering defence, and the ground is pretty sludgy too. Which makes his run all the more staggering. On an athletics track on a dry day, he'd surely get close to 10.5 seconds over 100m. Brisk or what?:

It's enough to remind you of that ludicrous moment in rugby PR when Springbok winger Bryan Habana raced a cheetah:

Anyway, enough of cheetahs, what of the Lions?
Salvi, who previously played for the Brumbies in Canberra as well as Australia 'A', says of the Home Nations' prospects: “The Lions have a great opportunity to win the breakdown. The likes of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric are all capable of disrupting ball. As long as the Lions get the selection right, they will be able to put the pressure on the Aussies."
It's just a shame that Salvi won't be there to compete against the Lions. The Wallabies are missing a trick by not having him in their national set up. Both at Bath and Leicester he's proved himself a superb fetcher and a fine link player; a consistent stand-out player in the Premiership. And wouldn't his inside knowledge of northern hemisphere rugby help the Aussies once Croft and the rest of the Lions roll into town?