Room to improve
Tom Croft tells Sky Sports there are still areas of their game England need to work on.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 20/02/12 2:15pm
Tom Croft has helped England to back-to-back victories in the RBS Six Nations but he admits there are still areas of their game they need to work on.
The defence of a crown secured under Martin Johnson's guidance last year has got off to the best possible start under caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster, with battling successes secured on the road in Scotland and Italy.
There is, however, plenty of room for improvement heading into Saturday's home date with Wales, with Leicester flanker Croft admitting the team are continuously striving to better their last performance.
"Any team will have areas they need to work on," he told Sky Sports.
"This side has only been together for three-and-a-bit weeks, so we have got stuff to work on but we are heading in the right direction. Defensively we have been doing very well, we haven't been creating too many attacking chances, but things are going in the right direction."
As mentioned by Croft, England have looked solid as a defensive unit so far, with a couple of unfortunate breaks preventing them from picking up a more comprehensive victory over Italy last time out.
"I don't think the scoreline reflected the game as a whole," said Croft.
"The two tries were very soft tries at the end of the first half. We had to play some good rugby in that game and try to break their side down. It was only down to a few basic errors at the end of passages of play which prevented us from scoring.
"But from where we were against Scotland to where we were against Italy is a step in the right direction. Hopefully that will continue against Wales, who obviously pose a massive threat. Things need to be increased across the board by another 10 per cent, but that's down to us."
The problem for England so far has been creating opportunities for their match-winners to stamp their authority on proceedings, with two tries from Charlie Hodgson and the reliable boot of Owen Farrell having edged them through their opening two fixtures.
"We are looking to create those opportunities," said Croft.
"We will be looking to do that again this weekend. We have concentrated heavily on that this week, how we want to play and how we want to attack and making sure people are in the right places at the right time. We need to make sure the basic skills don't let us down at the end of plays.
"We are aware that we need to score tries, but in the last couple of games our defence has won us those games and we have things to build on."
Wales will present another sizeable challenge to England's defence at Twickenham, with the promise of a more physical encounter on the cards.
On that meeting, Croft said: "We know that Wales will pose a different kind of threat. Wales have a lot more physical backline in terms of runners and we have to be aware of that. Hopefully our defence will improve again and that will remain our strength.
"We just need to keep focused on us, which we have done for the last couple of weeks. We need to make sure we are tight in defence but also impose our attacking structure onto them as well."
England have named an unchanged starting XV in their two games so far, but the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Toby Flood are chomping at the bit to be involved against Wales after shaking off injuries.
On their possible involvement, Croft said: "That will be down to Lancaster and the coaches to decide. We are aware of what Manu and Toby would bring to our game and if they are confident and think they could make us better, then that is down to the coaches to decide."
As a club colleague of Tuilagi and Flood, Croft is fully aware of what they would bring to the fold and admits understandings established at domestic level can be beneficial to the international cause.
"It's always nice to play alongside your team-mates in the international side, that's what you always want to do," he said.
"But it's down to Lancaster to decide on those partnerships, whether it's at nine and ten or further up the pitch. Having players who play together for their clubs is always a benefit, but it's down to the coaches to decide."
Tom Croft is an ambassador for SSE. To check out Tom going head to head against Wales' second row star Ryan Jones in a series of three video challenges, head to www.sserugby.com and see who wins!