Six Nations: England won't slip up says Leicester Tigers' Tom Croft
Leicester Tigers flanker Tom Croft is convinced England's Six Nations Grand Slam hunters will not make the same mistakes as they did in Dublin in 2011.
The 27-year-old makes a return to the England starting XV for the first time in a year as Stuart Lancaster's side head to Cardiff for what is expected to be a clash of seismic proportions against reigning champions Wales tomorrow.
England will be hoping to go one better than they did against Ireland two years ago when their Grand Slam hopes were dashed after a 24-8 drubbing at the Aviva Stadium.
Croft, who came on for Tigers' club-mate Louis Deacon in the second half on that fateful day, believes England took some valuable lessons from the defeat.
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"We have been in this position before two years ago in Ireland," he said. "This time, we are away again and we have to make sure that we don't make the mistakes we did then – I don't think for one minute that we will.
"The boys we have got in this squad will lead the game and fight tooth and nail to get that Grand Slam.
"We got stuck in the headlights against Ireland. They came out fast and Wales will do the same to try and bully us and take our attacking flair away.
"We have showed our character in fronting-up and defending this season, and we are going to have to do that against Wales early on and, hopefully, wear them out and then make some holes.
"It's a massive opportunity for the squad and the first landmark that this side can achieve en route to the World Cup in a few years' time."
Croft has staged a remarkable recovery from a neck injury that nearly paralysed him and kept him out of the game for nine months.
After just five starts for Leicester on the comeback trail, he was selected for England's bench against Italy last week and came on for 22 minutes.
The former Oakham Schoolboy insists that rapid rise has led to plenty of late-night homework sessions.
"I have had to do a lot of learning since coming back," he said. "That has involved getting my head around a computer as well as trying and absorb as much information as possible.
"I have needed to get myself up to speed so that I wouldn't let the boys down."