DANNY CARE is ready to wrestle back his place as England’s first-choice scrum-half and, with Ben Youngs the only man standing in his way, the Harlequins veteran is relishing the renewed rivalry between the pair.
The 29-year-old became a bit-part player for England’s dismal World Cup campaign and did not feature at all in the 2015 Six Nations, having been first choice No 9 the year before.
With the opportunity for a fresh start for the Red Rose under new coach Eddie Jones now looming, Care is desperate to take the bull by the horns.
It is a time of change for English rugby with seven new players in Jones’s first squad ahead of this year’s Six Nations Championship, but Care only has to edge out Youngs – first-choice under previous coach Stuart Lancaster – if he is to add to his 53 caps for England.
“It’s obviously nice when there are only two scrum-halves in the squad,” said Care, who was speaking at the launch of Harlequins team-mate Chris Robshaw’s testimonial year.
“It hasn’t happened to me before. There’s always been three of us fighting for one place, so me and Ben will be pushing each other all the way.
“We’ve been sort of fighting it out for the last five or six years since he first came on the scene. I was always aware of Tom Young’s little brother coming up and he’s been a brilliant player.
“We’re competitive but we’re good mates off the field as well, so we will push each other and I think it’s best for the team that you’ve got players in every position spurring each other on.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him; we go way back and probably play quite similar styles and I’m really looking forward to getting into camp.
“I think there’s a real excitement about English rugby at the moment obviously with the new coaches coming in and the way I think they’re going to play is we’re going to go at teams and really attack them.
“That’s music to my ears and I’m really excited and looking forward to getting an opportunity and trying to show what I can do.”
Care has responded to his World Cup exile by leading Harlequins to third in the Premiership and the Challenge Cup quarter-finals midway through his first season captaining the club.
With so many fresh faces named by Jones in a bid to turn England into a team of world-beaters, Care is hopeful he can be a leader within the international set-up as well.
He added: “I’ve really enjoyed the role this year. It’s an easy group to get going; everyone comes into work with a smile on their face which helps.
“There’s some great leaders around me, the likes of Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Joe Marler, Nick Evans, and Nick Easter.
“Obviously I’d love to take that forward to the England camp. Hopefully, I can be a big part of a big future for England.”
For more information about the Chris Robshaw Testimonial year, visit http://testimonial.chrisrobshaw.com/ or call the event office on 0203 7706982.