Danny Care has been on the go with England since making a 2008 Test debut away to New Zealand. He was only 21 at the time but now, as a 36-year-old with a caps tally of 90, he has made a jolting claim about the significance of his country’s looming Rugby World Cup opener this Saturday versus Argentina in Marseille.
“We can’t wait to get stuck in. We’re excited. For me personally, it’s probably the biggest week of my career, this World Cup game hopefully. What an opportunity we have got. We know we haven’t hit the straps as we would have liked to in the games but the belief in the group is as strong as ever. We can’t wait to go out and show what we can do at the weekend.”
It’s quite the claim, the biggest week of Care’s long and extinguished career. What gives? Seemingly the more time England have spent at base camp in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, the more they have been yapping confidently about themselves even though they come into the tournament on the back of five defeats in their last six outings and six losses in total in their nine matches under rookie Test boss Steve Borthwick.
“For the last 12 weeks, we have been working on the way we want to play,” Care explained. “We have seen it in little bits and bobs but we have never had it for a prolonged amount of time yet which has been the frustrating thing. Some of that is due to the opposition, some of that is due to ourselves, our own mistakes.
“Is it all going to click on Saturday? We hope it will. The last few days of training there has been a noticeable step up. No disrespect to the games gone by, but this is what we are here for. We have had this Argentina game etched in our brains ready to go so everything has lifted. We are out here now (in France), it’s more real, the boys are ready to rip in.”
Previous World Cups haven’t been kind to Care. He lost out in 2011 due to a warm-up game injury, he made just a single appearance in a 2015 dead rubber, while he was cast to the Test wilderness by Eddie Jones when the 2019 finals came around. Did he ever imagine getting back in the mix and being a genuine contender to play at France 2023?
“If you asked a couple of years ago if I thought I would play in another World Cup game the answer is probably no, even though the belief is still there, you see the dream is still there,” he admitted. “I am loving every minute, I genuinely am.
“This is a special group with some brilliant coaches, some great players. We haven’t shown that yet but for me, I can’t wait to help this team out to try and do as well as we can in this tournament.
“It all starts Saturday so whatever my role is starting, bench, not playing, I will do anything I can. It’s probably my last opportunity at a World Cup and I know everyone shares this – we are going to give it everything and try and make people proud.”
What does he make of the danger Argentina pose? “They have loads of threats. The big thing about them is their fight for each other. They work the full 80 minutes, whether they have gone down early in the scoreboard or they have started well and are in the game, they stay in the fight the whole time.
“Some special backs out there but a pack that goes about their business. We respect them massively, we are excited to come up against them this week.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 5, 2023