LEEDS Carnegie product Danny Care warned Leicester that Harlequins will not be prepared to relinquish their Aviva Premiership title without a fight ahead of today’s semi-final showdown at Welford Road.
Care has his own personal motivations as he goes head-to-head with England rival Ben Youngs, who was picked ahead of him for the British and Irish Lions tour.
The disappointment of missing out fired Care to deliver a stunning performance last weekend as Harlequins rounded off the regular season with a victory over Northampton.
But while he remains determined to prove the Lions coaches wrong, Care’s primary focus is for Harlequins, who played fitfully for much of the season, to march into another Premiership final.
Leicester have never lost a Premiership semi-final but Harlequins will not be daunted heading to Welford Road, having won on each of their last two visits and beaten the Tigers twice this season.
“There has a different feel this season with every team chasing us and every team wanting to beat the champions,” said Care, who was shortlisted for ‘Premiership Player of the Season’.
“About six weeks ago, we lost our way a little bit. That can happen in sport and our form dipped a bit.
“But we went away (to La Manga) after the Munster game and said we had five games left to win the league and retain the title.
“We are three from three now. Our form has picked up and we have a massive game on Saturday.
“Somebody is going to have to come and take the title off us – because we are not going to give it away easily.”
O’Shea believes both Care and captain Chris Robshaw were extremely unfortunate to miss out on the Lions. Youngs, Mike Phillips and Conor Murray were the preferred scrum-half options.
Robshaw (ankle) misses today’s encounter with Nick Easter handed the captaincy.
“I would love to have seen Care on the plane. If you are losing with 20 minutes to go in a Test, you send someone on who can change the game. Danny is a game-breaker,” said O’Shea.
Care has to remain positive, not only because Harlequins need him at his best but because history shows the call could still come.
“I thought I’d maybe played well enough to get in but the selectors didn’t think that. I feel I am in the best form I have ever been in. It was disappointing,” said Care. “I will keep positive. The thing with sport is you have to move on quickly. ”
Saracens host Northampton in tomorrow’s other semi-final, with Saracens unbeaten on six previous appearances at their new Allianz Park home.