Quins' Care starts season with clean slate
It is fair to say Harlequins scrum half Danny Care has had his off-field problems in recent years, but the England star insists he is starting this season with a clean slate.
Care signed for Quins in 2006 as a fresh-faced academy graduate from Leeds after then director of rugby Dean Richards had returned the club to the top flight.
The 26-year-old, who has had the odd brush with the law, is now a seasoned pro with 41 England caps to his name, along with Premiership and Amlin Cup winners medals on the mantelpiece.
He missed out on adding a British & Irish Lions Test cap to that collection, but after a full summer off and the new season starting tomorrow with the London double-header clash with London Wasps, the Yorkshire terrier is ready to right some wrongs.
And that can only be good news for his club and director of rugby Conor O’Shea.
“Obviously, I was gutted to miss the Lions, but I got six weeks off instead to switch of physically and mentally,” he said at Quins training base in Guildford last week.
“It is nice to forget about it for a bit, go on holiday and be a normal person.
“Getting back in the England number nine shirt is a major goal for me. It was a frustrating year last year and not getting in the Lions was frustrating.
“But these things happen. There are so many highs and lows in rugby you’ve just got to move on. Every week is a new week.
“It is a fresh start for me this season. I’ll play as well as I
can and see what happens.”
Seeing what happens will hopefully bring Quins a place in the Premiership final and a place in the last four of the Heineken Cup to go some way to erasing the memory of heartache in both competitions last season.
“We’d love to win a trophy again. Losing the Premiership was hard to take,” he added.
“We want to be the best team in the Premiership and the best team in Europe. We set ourselves high standards, but we know we have got a lot of work to do.
“We didn’t perform in the two big games we needed to last year. We didn’t play well against Munster at home, a game we should have won.
“And in the Leicester Tigers game, we let ourselves down in the second half. Some idiot got sinbinned [Care] and put us down to 14 men and they ran away with it.”
After seven years with the same club, Care has matured into the complete scrum half and is ready to set the example to those looking to follow in his footsteps.
He said: “I’m getting to the stage now where you see all the young lads running around. It is scary to see how old you are.
“I’m taking on a more experienced role in the team, which I’m looking forward to doing.
“I’ve been the young lad in teams and now I’ve accepted the fact I’m getting a bit older.
“There are two young scrum-halves Sam Stuart and Jordan Burns at the club. If I can help them in any way and if I can be a good role model that will only help them in the future.
“I’m enjoying myself at the moment and looking forward to getting the season started.”