“I made it easy for myself to get in trouble”

Reformed character Danny Care opens up to Josh Richards about his long wait to play a World Cup

A TROUBLESOME three-month period is the snapshot of Danny Care’s career for which the England scrum-half is begrudgingly perhaps best known.

Four arrests in a matter of weeks meant Care had to win back head coach Stuart Lancaster’s trust before thinking about pulling on the Red Rose shirt again. Now the Harlequins star hopes his long road to redemption culminates in 2015, with the end of an eight-year wait to represent England at a World Cup.

Care’s emergence onto the international scene came just too late for the 2007 World Cup, while a broken toe on the eve of the tournament cruelly ruled him out of the 2011 competition. A nascent comeback was then checked by a series of alcohol-related brushes with the law between December 2011 and March 2012, and Care was duly axed by Lancaster at the start of 2012.

That blow led Care to get his house in order, however, and the 27-year-old is now thriving for both Harlequins and England, for whom he was one of the stars of a highly encouraging recent Six Nations. An able footballer with Sheffield Wednesday until 15 years old, Care is adamant that he chose the right sport – even if he admits slightly envying the Chelsea players who overtake him in Ferraris on the daily commute to Cobham – and with the excitement of a home World Cup on the horizon, the former Leeds youngster is determined to keep a tight grip on the No9 shirt.

“I made it easy for myself to get into trouble,” Care says of his past indiscretions, which earned him fines and a 16-month driving ban.

“But I’ve learned my lessons, that’s all behind me now. I feel for the first time in a while I deserve a good go in the England team. I’ve been a bit inconsistent before and this year I needed to show a few people what I could do. I was really pleased with how the Six Nations went for me. It was great to play all five games and gain more chances to show what I can do for the team.

“Anyone who says the World Cup isn’t on their mind would be lying. But I’m wise enough to know it’s a long way away. I need to keep improving.”

Having missed out on Six Nations glory this year by the narrowest of margins, England’s next assignment is a three-Test tour to play world No1s New Zealand in June. Autumn Tests against southern hemisphere opposition and another Six Nations still lie ahead, but Care believes their summer results against the All Blacks will prove a reliable indicator of how the hosts can expect to fare at the World Cup.

“In the Six Nations we played some good stuff and but for a bad bounce of the ball [in the opening loss to France] we’d have been sitting with the trophy,” added Care, who is promoting Quins’ partnership with IG.

“So we’re not too far off and determined to get up there with the likes of New Zealand and South Africa. The tour to New Zealand will give us a good idea of where we are, but I think we can go into the tournament really confident.”

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