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Kvesic backed by Leicester star Croft to become England’s seven
11:00am Friday 11th January 2013 in Sport
CHRIS Robshaw may have made the England number seven shirt his own in the last 12 months but, according to Leicester and Lions flanker Tom Croft, a handy alternative has finally emerged.
Since World Cup-winner Neil Back retired from England duty in 2003 after amassing 66 caps, a collection of wannabes, including the likes of Hendre Fourie and Lewis Moody, have tried and failed to show they are an international seven.
But, after making his comeback following nine months out through injury against Worcester last week, back-rower Croft is convinced Worcester Warrior Matt Kvesic is an England regular waiting to happen.
The former England under 20s star impressed against Leicester in front of the watching England hierarchy that included forwards’ coach Graham Rowntree.
He was talked up on Sky’s weekly Rugby Club by pundits Stuart Barnes and Dewi Morris as a specialist seven that possessed the skills to make an impact for England in this year’s Six Nations.
He was included by England boss Stuart Lancaster in his Saxons’ squad this week, prompting speculation Kvesic will be called upon as a replacement should Robshaw suffer an untimely injury.
“I think he is a real threat, but also a talent as well,” said Croft. “Whenever we play Worcester, you look out for Matt around the ball — he’s always being a nuisance and at the end of the day that is what a seven is there to do.
“The role of the seven has changed massively over the last couple of years and I think Matt has developed his game accordingly and has now slipped into the role that is needed to progress internationally.
“The likes of Julian Salvi at Leicester have fulfilled that role as well and whether you need an out-and-out seven is up for debate, but Matt is capable.
“You need someone who knows how to play the role. You can’t have completely alien players filling in and Matt has really impressed me and, I know, a lot of people in and around the Premiership.
“It completely lies with the coaches as to whether they need that out-and-out seven and what they deem to be the right combination. You can have a heavily physical back-row or a running back row and it is about getting the balance right — that’s Stuart Lancaster’s job.”
Kvesic is unfortunate to not only be behind the Premiership’s outstanding performer of the last 12 months, Robshaw, but also England’s new leader.
But, instead of hiding from the challenge, Croft is convinced Kvesic can learn and develop his game by watching Robshaw in England and Harlequins colours.
He added: “Robshaw does an exceptionally good job and, with the captaincy as well, he has all the pressure.
“He is everywhere on the park, he carries and clears out well and he does the dog yards which not many sevens do.
“You need someone you can admire as a player but also work with and be able to approach and suggest things. He leads from the front on the pitch and it is nice to have some continuity in the side.
“Robshaw would still be in the side if he wasn’t captain and aspiring international players should watch and learn from his performances.”
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