- Care excited to face Wales after points in three successive games
- Scrum half discusses how he’s become the complete No.9
Danny Care is loving every minute with England at the moment, and the scrum half has every reason to. Scoring points in all three 2014 RBS 6 Nations fixtures – opportunistic drop-goals in France and Scotland preceding his wonderful match-winning try against Ireland – has capped a trio of high-octane, virtuoso performances in the No.9 shirt.
But more importantly for the 27 year-old, he’s regained the trust of the England coaches after absorbing their feedback and becoming the complete player they believed he could be. Care was third-choice behind Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs for the QBE Internationals last November but moved ahead in the pecking order this year on the back of stellar performances in the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup.
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Brimming with the buoyancy you would expect from someone in the form of his life, Care explained how he has done it: “During the autumn and the games leading up the them for Harlequins, I don’t think I was playing as well as the coaches thought I could be so I went away, worked on a few things and I’ve come back in.
“It wasn’t about changing too much, it was about taking a bit more control of the game as a nine. At Quins we probably go a bit more than they do at other clubs so it’s about choosing the right options for the team.
“I’m trying to use my experience, I am one of the most experienced players in the squad so I need to use that. And also just shoring up my defensive role in making sure I’m that guard in behind in case they break through our defence.
“It was good that the coaches gave me those specific things to work on and hopefully I’ve shown that I can do them.”
How Care manages the game alongside fly half Owen Farrell against Wales on Sunday will go a long way to determining whether England claim a first Triple Crown since 2003 and stay in the hunt for the Championship title. Injecting tempo and marshalling his dynamic forward pack could make the difference against a Welsh side aiming for a fourth straight win over England.
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Care is one of only three in the starting line-up – Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood are the others – who has beaten Warren Gatland’s team before, with the intriguing sub-plot of a Rugby World Cup 2015 pool game coming up in 18 months.
Added to the lingering damage to England’s pride suffered after the record 30-3 reverse in Cardiff last year, Sunday’s game assumes much significance. But for forward-thinking Care, there is the immediate task of facing a team boasting 12 Test Lions.
“Just to win in general is massive for us, to keep the dream alive of winning this Six Nations,” he said. “We know we need to perform for the full 80 minutes against Wales, they’re a quality team and they’ve got all their boys back for this game.
“It’s all about the here and now, it’s all about this game, nothing else matters for us at the moment. The boys are excited, when Wales come to town it’s always a huge game and we know we’re going to have to play very well to beat them.”
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Care was a second-half replacement at the Millennium Stadium last year but could do nothing to halt the rampant hosts. By his own admission it was “not his best 15 or 20 minutes”, but Care firmly believes the he and his teammates are in a different place tactically and mentally ahead of the latest edition.
He added: “It was a bit of a mad game, it’s hard to describe. I didn’t play very well and I think we probably tried to force things to try and get back into the game. But it was just a great day for Wales, they played well from minute one to minute 80 and a few decisions went their way and they took advantage of that.
“We’ve grown an awful lot in a year, we’ve learnt a lot of lessons, we had a good QBE series and then the Six Nations obviously has gone pretty well so far. Each week we’re building, we’re learning from our mistakes and rectifying that in short spaces of time, so hopefully we’re going to keep growing and getting better and better.”