sport news Sam Simmonds is the perfect No 8 to take on South Africa, says former Lions ...

Sam Simmonds is the perfect No 8 to take on South Africa this summer, says Lions legend Tom Croft after England outcast emerges as shock option for head coach Warren Gatland Former Leicester flanker says Gatland could pick Simmonds 'to prove a point' Croft was handed a late call-up by McGeechan for the Lions tour in 2009 He was one of the stand-out performers in an epic series against the Boks

By Chris Foy for the Daily Mail

Published: 22:30 BST, 4 May 2021 | Updated: 00:27 BST, 5 May 2021

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Sam Simmonds has been backed to earn a place in the Lions squad and thrive in South Africa by another turbo-charged English back-rower, who made his name on the last tour there in 2009.

Tom Croft was still establishing himself at Test level when he was handed a late call-up by Sir Ian McGeechan and went on to be one of the stand-out performers in an epic series against the world champion Springboks 12 years ago.

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The former Leicester flanker believes that Exeter No 8 Simmonds can prove that there is a place for his explosive pace and athleticism among so many giant international forwards — this summer with the Lions and beyond that with England.

England forward Sam Simmonds has been backed to earn a place in the Lions squad

England forward Sam Simmonds has been backed to earn a place in the Lions squad

‘Sam Simmonds is the perfect person to go on this tour,’ said Croft. ‘He is the undisputed in-form No 8 in the Premiership. He’s not got much international experience so that means there’s not much pressure on him — he can go out and just do his thing. I’d love to see him out there.’

Croft worked with Lions head coach Warren Gatland on the 2009 and

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