Harlequins and England scrum-half Danny Care has been discussing the prospects of being involved with England once again and what it would mean to him to be involved in a full World Cup. There are undoubtedly many challenges along the way, but with over 350 club appearances and almost a century of international appearances, the stage appears to be set for the big Care comeback.
Danny Care has arguably been one of the best scrum halves in World Rugby during the past few years. Always known for his ability to break the line by spotting gaps that others would not, Care has built upon his game so much so that he appears to be in his very prime at the grand old age of 36. Care’s ability to control the game and get the very best out of players around him was undoubtedly a major factor in Harlequins’ Premiership victory back in 2021.
Whilst many players approaching the latter stages of their careers tend to slow down and make up for their lack of pace through other measures, Care continues to play the game at breakneck speed. It is this innate speed and ability to read the game that is still making him such a dangerous player to face. Combining these talents with the experienced head that now sits upon the former Leeds man’s shoulders, there are only a handful of scrum halves you might consider better in the world. Jamieson Gibson-Park and Antoine Dupont could well get the nod over him if you were picking a World XV, but even that is just a matter of preference.
Despite his recent years being some of his best on the club rugby field, Care has faired rather less fortunately on the international stage. Prior to last year’s tour of Australia, he was absent from the England squad for four whole years under the rule of Eddie Jones. His return to the squad was met with much jubilation and expectation from fans, especially after a couple of solid performances in the first games. It was the third and final match of the series where his international career appeared to unravel once again, however, as his first-half performance saw him removed before halftime after failing to take control of the game. It appeared that the veteran Care had played his final game for England, especially after being omitted from both the subsequent Autumn tests and the following Six Nations.
As luck was to have it, Care appears to have been given another shot at the England shirt ahead of this year’s world cup. New coach Steve Borthwick has had a short turnaround to find his perfect team ahead of the competition, and it appears that the old heads of Danny Care and Ben Youngs are shaping up to compete for the nine shirt alongside Leicester player Jack van Poortvliet.
Speaking in the BBC Rugby Union Weekly Podcast, Care was keen to emphasise how important this shot was for him:
“I’ve never been as determined to get in an England shirt as I am now, As soon as I spoke to Steve and there was a possibility of coming into camp and fighting for a shirt I jumped at the chance. Instantly the answer was yes, I would do anything to play for [Steve’s] team, To play in a World Cup is a dream and I will give it everything. For me anytime an England coach wants you to come in and give it a crack, the answer is always yes.
“It’s why I’ve stayed in England for 18 years as a player, I always wanted to play for my country, it means an awful lot to me. I’ve flown into it and given it everything. I feel as good as I have in years. It’s been tough and it’s been graft, but it’s the World Cup and it has to be. I’ve loved every minute. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t swap any of it.”
Despite achieving 87 caps in an international career that has spanned over 15 years, Care has only won one cap at a World Cup. That being a victory over Uruguay.
“World Cups haven’t been what I wanted them to be, so I would give anything to get in that 33 to France. The dream is the dream, to do what the ’03 lads did and go and win the trophy. I’ve seen it all. I’ve been there, I’ve been named in a squad and not been able to make the plane through injury. I’ve seen lads come from nowhere and make a World Cup. Anything could happen, it’s rugby. All I am focusing on is each day and trying to work hard and help the team.”
Talking about the current setup in the England camp, Care added:
“As a head coach I have been blown away by [Borthwick’s] detail and how he drives the team forward, this England team is going to be a very good team. I can assure you of that. There are some frighteningly good young players in this squad that could be brilliant players for England for years.”
You can listen to the full podcast here.