Danny Care has been given the chance to resurrect his England career following his inclusion by Stuart Lancaster in England’s squad for next month’s tour to South Africa.
The 25-year-old Leeds-born scrum-half was excluded from the recent Six Nations squad after being charged, and subsequently convicted, of drink driving.
He is currently on police bail following his arrest on suspicion of sexual assault – but Lancaster is confident he can trust the former Leeds player.
Since his omission from the Six Nations squad, Care has been in sparkling form for club side Harlequins, helping them to the top of the Aviva Premiership.
He has also convinced his former Leeds Carnegie academy coach Lancaster that he has cleaned up his act off the field and is worthy of a place in a 42-man squad that includes 13 uncapped players.
“I’ve thought about this quite a lot,” said Lancaster, whose England side face three Tests against the Springboks and two midweek matches against Currie Cup opponents.
“What I needed to be assured of from him was that he could lead himself off the field because if I can trust him I feel he has got a bright future.
“When I met him four weeks ago I wanted him to reassure me he’d learned the tough lessons of the past few months and would be able to channel that into being one of the world’s best players in his position, which I know he can be.”
Lancaster, who is very much a man focused on the process as much as the outcome, also revealed how he had been impressed by the strides Care had made off the field.
“Danny hadn’t been thinking about too much other than training and playing,” he said in explanation of where it had gone wrong for the 32-cap scrum-half.
“He hadn’t set himself any goals or plans about how he wanted to get better.
“He does want to be a top-flight rugby player and to achieve that you’ve got to be occupied off the field, to be able to put your energies into other things.
“He’s worked with the Rugby Players’ Association and the Harlequins sports psychologist and all that good work off the field can only make him a better player on it.
“I am pleased with the progress he has made and the maturity he is now showing off the field.
“He knows he is treading a very fine line but I trust him enough to have the confidence to take him.”