‘I love be­ing a part of the best Eng­land team I have played in’

Danny Care ex­plains to Ben Coles why he is happy play­ing role of one of Jones’ fin­ish­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union -

The con­nec­tion is of­ten made be­tween an ath­lete’s on-field and off-field hap­pi­ness, and based on Danny Care’s re­cent per­for­mances, the Har­lequins and Eng­land scrum-half seems ex­tremely con­tent.

In his first out­ing for Har­lequins fol­low­ing the au­tumn in­ter­na­tion­als, Care pro­duced three as­sists, all with the boot, in a stir­ring fight­back last Sun­day to help de­feat Sara­cens. One of the first to con­grat­u­late him was his son, Blake, run­ning onto the field into the arms of his beam­ing father.

A cou­ple of weeks ear­lier, he had killed off Aus­tralia’s hopes at Twick­en­ham, where Har­lequins re­turn this month for Big Game 10, with two kick-as­sists for tries by Jonathan Joseph and Jonny May.

At no point in Care’s ca­reer has his time spent in Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s acad­emy dur­ing his youth ever been more per­ti­nent.

Care turns 31 next month, and has spent the ma­jor­ity of his ca­reer in and around the Eng­land squad, which might be why he was think­ing more about the big­ger pic­ture when savouring his try in the cor­ner against Aus­tralia in front of his young fam­ily. It also puts him in a po­si­tion to claim that this cur­rent Eng­land side are the best that he has been a part of.

“You have to en­joy it,” he said. “Hope­fully, I have a few more years left in an Eng­land shirt but you have to en­joy those mo­ments, to score in the last minute of a Test match.

“Look­ing at the squad, I have been around the Eng­land team for around seven to eight years now. There is a great mix of older lads and youth play­ers. The av­er­age age I imag­ine is about 24 to 25.

“This is the best Eng­land team that I have been a part of, and I love go­ing to the train­ing ses­sions and play­ing for my coun­try.”

Be­ing part of that team also means hav­ing to set­tle for a role as a “fin­isher”, Ed­die Jones’s favoured term for his re­place­ments, and a part which Care has ar­guably played with more suc­cess over the past two years than any other Eng­land player.

Six starts have come in 23 ap­pear­ances since Jones took over, in­clud­ing the re­sult that clinched a Six Na­tions Grand Slam in 2016, when Care opened the scor­ing against France in Paris. Yet Care, and the rest of the squad, now ac­cept it fully if they are be­ing saved for each Test’s sec­ond act.

“Every­one in that squad has a role and very rarely do peo­ple not get on the field,” Care ex­plains. “There is a squad buy-in that we have. The starters will work as hard as they can to cre­ate a good plat­form for the fin­ish­ers to then come on and hope­fully win the game.”

Back at Har­lequins, there has been less con­cern this sea­son re­gard­ing starters and fin­ish­ers, and more over who is ac­tu­ally avail­able. At one point in Oc­to­ber, more than 25 play­ers had been ruled out from both the first-team squad and acad­emy, an in­crease for Care that cor­re­lates with rugby’s evo­lu­tion.

“We have had the big­gest in­jury list I have ever seen in rugby this year,” he says. “I don’t think you can put it down to one thing. A few teams have had it and there are a lot more head knocks be­ing picked up, which stand you down for a week.

“Guys are get­ting big­ger, faster, stronger, which is the way the game is go­ing. There are go­ing to be more col­li­sions and more in­juries.

“If you look at the game 10 to 11 years ago com­pared to now, it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent sport. The speed of the ball is quicker, more num­bers are on their feet, given there is more com­pe­ti­tion at the break­down. That means more de­fend­ers, more brick walls for the lads to run into. That is all go­ing to take a toll on the body.”

If there is a sil­ver lin­ing to that in­jury cri­sis, how­ever, then it must be how Har­lequins’ young play­ers have put their hands up dur­ing a tricky pe­riod, keep­ing within sight of the top four in the Premier­ship be­fore the re­turn of Care and the club’s other in­ter­na­tion­als.

Not bad con­sid­er­ing the club parted ways with Mar­land Yarde at a time when num­bers were thin on the ground. Tal­ented as Yarde un­doubt­edly is, the club ap­pear to be in a bet­ter place now, mov­ing into a busy fes­tive sched­ule which will be head­lined by Big Game 10 on Dec 30 against Northamp­ton at Twick­en­ham.

“[Mar­land] is a bril­liant player. It was sad that he left un­der the cir­cum­stances, but I think it is the best thing for him and also the best thing for the club,” says Care. “The de­ci­sion was taken to part ways and I think he is en­joy­ing his life up at Sale.

“It just shows that no player is big­ger than the club. The boss has to put the club first.

“Our young lads have been given op­por­tu­ni­ties to play, which they might not nor­mally have had, and each one that has put on a Har­lequins shirt this year has done them­selves proud.”

Danny Care was speak­ing ahead of Big Game 10 at Twick­en­ham Sta­dium, Dec 30, in as­so­ci­a­tion with IG Trad­ing and In­vest­ments. Tick­ets are avail­able at tick­ets.quins.co.uk

Tal­is­man: Danny Care trans­ferred his form for Eng­land to Har­lequins in their im­pres­sive vic­tory over Sara­cens last week­end

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.