‘Natural attacker’ Danny Care deserves England recall, says Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones has revealed how he was convinced Danny Care warranted a return to the England fold over a clear-the-air coffee, after selecting the veteran scrum-half for a first appearance in nearly four years.
Care has been named on the bench against the Barbarians on Sunday, having not featured for England since he was one of the handful of players jettisoned after the November 2018 victory against Japan. It is believed that Care and Jones had exchanged words over England’s tactics at half-time during that match after a lacklustre first half.
The 35-year-old has been a consistently excellent performer for Harlequins ever since, however, playing a starring role in the club’s Premiership title triumph last season. He was nominated for the player of the season award this term and recently received a message of congratulations from Jones for one of his performances. That led to Care asking to meet up with the head coach and, in turn, a place on the England bench against the Barbarians on Sunday.
“After a game recently I texted him to say ‘well played’ as I thought he played really well,” said Jones. “He came back and said he’d love to catch up. We had a coffee and he was very adamant on how keen he was to play for England. Then you get a bit more interested. We have been watching him carefully and felt he deserved another opportunity.
“I think the game has changed. The ruck speed suits him. The speed of the ball now allows him to play his natural game whereas when the ruck ball was slower you have to artificially create attacking situations. He is brilliant at natural attacking situations.”
Care is the second most experienced member of England’s 23-man squad to face the Barbarians in the non-cap international, with Courtney Lawes also named on the bench and Tom Curry captaining the side from flanker.
Jones refused to expand on whether Care’s call-up was related to Ben Youngs’ availability for the tour after last week’s tragic announcement that his sister-in-law, Tiffany Youngs, had died from cancer.
Youngs has been named on the Leicester bench for Saturday’s Premiership final and Jones added: “I can’t discuss Ben Youngs. He is in a final. Once he finishes the final, we will discuss his situation with him.”
Along with the Quins hooker Jack Walker, Northampton’s Tommy Freeman is one of two uncapped starters in the England XV, getting the nod at full-back with the 19-year-old Henry Arundell deemed unavailable with a minor injury. Jonny May makes a first start since January after recovering from knee surgery while Will Collier is given the chance to stake his claim for a spot in the squad for the Australia series after he was selected at tighthead prop.
Jones will finalise his party for the tour of Australia – expected to be around 33 players – on Monday. Though he has pencilled in his squad he is expecting to make last-minute changes. “We’ve got a great picture in our head but a lot of times that picture can be an illusion because the reality of the situation is we don’t know who’s going to be fit,” added Jones. “Last-minute impressions are always important.
“We always talk about the tea-bag theory. You get your tea bag out of the packet and you never really know how good it is until you put the hot water into it. And on Sunday some of these young guys are going to be in hot water, so we’ll see how good the tea is.”
Bevan Rodd completes the front-row, with Jonny Hill and Charlie Ewels named at lock and Sam Underhill and Alex Dombrandt joining Curry in the back-row.
Harry Randall and Marcus Smith start at half-back while Mark Atkinson and Joe Marchant are named at centre and Joe Cokanasiga completes the back three. “It wouldn’t matter if the game was being played on Mars,” said Jones of Cokanasiga. “If he was playing well he’d be useful.”