A FIT again Rhys Crane has vowed to return to his
prolific best as he continues his rejuvenation at Nottingham
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
"I know how lucky I am to still be playing rugby," said
"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
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
"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
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."