Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Six Nations woe for Croft

England flanker Tom Croft has seen his RBS 6 Nations campaign ruined after scans confirmed the damage from the knee injury he suffered on Saturday.

Croft had to be helped off after 27 minutes of Leicester's 47-8 win over Viadana in the Heineken Cup and faces a five to six-week lay-off.

The 24-year-old will therefore miss his country's opening two matches against Wales and Italy, and his participation against Ireland at Twickenham on February 27 is also extremely doubtful.

A statement from the Rugby Football Union last night read: "A scan has confirmed that Tom Croft sustained a grade two medial cruciate ligament injury to his left knee in the Heineken Cup game against Viadana last weekend.

"He has now started his rehabilitation programme with a view to returning to action in five to six weeks."

Croft established himself in the international line-up during last year's Six Nations, coming on a substitute in the first three games and earning a starting spot for the final two matches against France and Scotland.

He was handed a late call-up to the British and Irish Lions' summer tour of South Africa after Munster's Alan Quinlan was ruled out by suspension, and scored a try in the first tour match against the Golden Lions before adding two more in the first Test against the Springboks.

He played a key role for the Tigers in the early weeks of this season before an injury to the same knee sidelined him for six weeks - the Viadana game was just his second appearance since returning from that lay-off.

Northampton's Courtney Lawes will be one of the men in contention to replace Croft after being promoted to England manager Martin Johnson's senior squad ahead of the tournament.

Harlequins back-rower Nick Easter is also back in the 32-man party after injury.