Danny Care sets eyes on starting England role and much sought after world no.1 spot following Autumn internationals and Aviva Premiership form.
In his time under England coach Eddie Jones, Danny Care has for the most part played second fiddle to Leicester Tigers' half-back Ben Youngs. Care's ability to come off the bench and create moments of magic in attack has caused Jones to slide Care into his 'finishers' category. But following his superb form in a starting role for club side Harlequins, head coach John Kingston has challenged Care to become the number one scrum-half not just for England but all of world rugby.
In the past Care's inferior box kicking and game management compared to Youngs has held him back from the starting XV. Since the retirement of old head Nick Evans for Harlequins, Care has taken up a more prominent role. With 18-year-old England prodigy Marcus Smith in his debut season for Quins, Care has taken up a more commanding role in a starting jersey. After the late withdrawal of Smith before kick off last weekend, Care was forced to take on more responsibility than ever before. Essentially running the show against the current European champions, Care orchestrated a huge win in relation to Quins season.
One aspect not up for debate is Care's kicking game going forward, setting both Charlie Walker and Tim Visser over with cross field kicks from the base of the ruck. Add in setting up Jonny May's score against Australia in the Autumn and it's clear to see the benefits of having him on the pitch from the start.
For now, Youngs will retain the starting role, but while he may bring a steadier hand from half-back, he can't match Care in attacking prowess. If Jones is serious about developing England's attack, Care may be his man.
Care has improved his box-kicking skills over the last two years and has clearly developed his ability to run a game as we saw at the weekend. Consistency and opportunity are Care's biggest obstacles at present. If he can produce the type of attacking brilliance we have seen over the last few months from the start, England may well be taking their next step to developing the kind of attack befitting their ambitions of becoming the number one team in the world.