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Danny Care: My academy report said I was one for the future – even if I wasn’t physical enough

Danny Care during England training at Twickenham

During the build-up to what is set to be his 100th cap this weekend, Danny Care was given a reminder of criticism that has cropped up over his decorated career.

Last week in York, where England spent the first stage of their preparations to face Grand Slam-chasing Ireland at Twickenham, Richard Wigglesworth read out Care’s national academy report.

“[Wigglesworth] did a little bit of a montage of good and bad bits from my career,” Care recalled on Friday at Twickenham. “I think the report said ‘he lacks a bit of physicality, box-kicking is slightly inconsistent’.

“I’d say, 18 years later, that’s still the same. The cool line at the end of it was ‘future England player’. There was also ‘he tries a bit too much and makes a few mistakes but he’ll have a crack’.

“[Wigglesworth] had a bit of fun with that and it’s come full circle. I’m still quite similar, I’d say.”

Care admitted that representing England at senior level, which he first did against New Zealand in 2008, has become something of “an addiction”. At Twickenham on Saturday will be his three children - Blake, Koha and Rocco - as well as his wife, Jodie, his mother and father and extended family. “It’s cost me a fair bit of cash,” Care said of the extra tickets.

The 37-year-old scrum-half also joked about the danger of being collared at the bar by Jason Leonard, England’s original centurion, should he come off the bench to become the sixth man to reach the coveted milestone.

It feels fitting that Care, who started the 30-21 loss to Scotland in round three, reverts to the bench against Andy Farrell’s charges. Should he take over from Alex Mitchell against Ireland, it will be his 57th Test appearance as a replacement.

Four fellow Harlequins in Joe Marler, Chandler Cunningham-South, Alex Dombrandt and Marcus Smith join Care on England’s bench and will hope to be introduced with the match in the balance.

“Everyone always asks me if I get annoyed being on the bench and I genuinely don’t,” added Care. “It’s not that I prefer it, but I love it. I love that role because you’re on the pitch at the end.

“You have the ability to help your team win the game and you’re on the pitch for the final whistle. When you’re a starter as a nine, you very rarely play the 80 minutes these days. I enjoy coming on and trying to add something, to inject some pace. If you’ve seen something during the game, you can maybe try and work on that.

“We’ve got a decent bench this weekend with four of my very good mates from the club, there are five of us from Quins on there and three other brilliant players so we can try and be the difference this weekend. We’re going to get on there and give it a go.”

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