Danny Care’s attacking instincts have placed him on the brink of his England comeback in the uncapped international against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Care has been picked on the bench as scrum-half cover for the starting Harry Randall nearly four years after he made the last of his 84 Test appearances, when he fell out with coach Eddie Jones.
The 35-year-old’s electric form for Harlequins over the last two seasons has earned him a recall, with Jones viewing his influence in attack as being ideal for the speed of the modern game.
“I’ve always liked Danny as a player. He played a lot of Tests for me early on, from 2016 to 2018,” Australian Jones said.
“He’s got the ability to jump on a break and make sure the attack keeps going forward which, given the speed of the ball in today’s game, is invaluable. And he’s a good character.
“Since he’s been in camp he’s been fantastic, really rejuvenated, spring in his step, sparkle in his eye. He’s a little bit wiser than he was before so it’s really positive.”
What role Care is to play in Jones’ plans beyond Sunday remains uncertain, with England’s head coach declining to say whether he will be involved in next month’s tour to Australia.
He will be 36 by the time the next World Cup arrives and is behind at least Randall and Ben Youngs in the scrum-half hierarchy, but Jones refused to close any doors.
“The only thing we’re worried about this week is the Barbarians. We’ll finish with the Barbarians and then worry about the Australia tour. I know it sounds boring but that’s how it is,” Jones said.
“I don’t think age is a consideration. It’s about his desire to want to get better and whether physically he can do it. Certainly this week he’s shown us nothing untoward.
“Our younger players benefit from conversations with guys like Courtney Lawes and Jonny May and Danny Care.
London Irish’s full-back sensation Henry Arundell saw his breakthrough season hit a stumbling block when a muscle strain ruled him out of contention for Sunday, although he could still be taken to Australia.
Randall has been appointed vice-captain in a team led by Tom Curry and he partners Marcus Smith at half-back.
Jonny May and Joe Cokanasiga are picked on the wings following injury-enforced absences and play outside a center partnership of Mark Atkinson and Joe Marchant.
Jonny Hill’s foot injury meant he missed the Six Nations but he is restored to the second row, with Curry, Sam Underhill and Alex Dombrandt forming a strong back row.
“We are looking forward to playing against an unusually French Barbarians side. We’ll use it as an opportunity to develop combinations and assess players for the Australia tour.”