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Crane determined to keep lifting

A FIT again Rhys Crane has vowed to return to his prolific best as he continues his rejuvenation at Nottingham Rugby.

Crane train

CRANE TRAIN: The winger flattened all before him with an intercept try against Bedford. PIC: Alison Bowden

For the first time in more than 18 months the winger is playing regular rugby, and doing what he loves most - scoring tries.

Having started every match this season under new head coach Martin Haag, scoring in the past two, the 26-year-old is in a hurry to repay his dues to a club that showed belief in him with a one-year contract extension after just three cameo appearances last season.

"I know how lucky I am to still be playing rugby," said Crane.

"Nottingham has given me the opportunity to do that and I'm doing everything I can to repay their faith. It really could have gone the other way for me this season, but I'm making the most of the chance I have and every game I get."

Since he first went under the knife for knee surgery while with Premiership side Sale, Crane's name became more synonymous with his time on the sideline rather than his knack for finding the try line.

First it was 10 months out recuperating his knee, then a further three months mending a broken jaw after a 30 second Nottingham debut last season. A career first red card ensured he cooled his heels a while longer once he fully recovered.

It's with his maiden try as a substitute in the Green and Whites' final game of the season that he showcased his aptitude for scoring - needing only one touch to power over the line in his first home game.

It's with a trademark deep-dimpled smile that Crane says he is terrorising the touchlines of the RFU Championship with a new lease on his rugby life.

"My mindset has always been to get fit and get back to playing rugby every week," Crane said.

"Every week is about showing that I've still got it and that I'm worth my place in the team.  Because I haven't played consistently for so long, it is tough getting through every week.

"But with every game this season I feel that I'm getting stronger and improving."

There might be areas of his game that need attention - namely reading the bounce of the ball following his misjudged effort to clear danger against Rotherham in Nottingham's recent loss - but his attacking instincts are as sharp as ever.

He sliced his way through the Titans' defence to score a consolation try in a disappointing defeat and last week burned Bedford with an intercept effort that shell-shocked the hosts going into half-time.

As the new-look Nottingham continues to gel in the formative stage of the league competition, Crane insists he isn't the only one who will be going from strength-to-strength.

 "One of my strengths has always been my finishing; I've always had a good try to game ratio and I hope I keep going the way I have in the past few weeks," said Crane.

"I love the way we are playing the game, it's expansive and everyone gets involved. It's not just one way of playing rugby, it's about playing with your head s up, playing what you see in front of you and fitting the structure around that and how the game is panning out.

"There is still a lot of room for improvement; it's not the finished article yet."


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