I was made up to chat with my old buddy Danny Care on the England hotel team in Perth on Friday.
We’ve been through many ups and downs together, and I know his family will share my pride in seeing him back on top. Waiting will make it so much sweeter.
As we started talking, Ellis Genge rushed into the room to jump into the camera and I asked where his Premiership medal was.
He said it was in his suitcase because he had come straight to the camp in England from the pub! It was nice to see the guys with a smile on their faces.
Danny Care has been recalled from England four years after his last appearance
“It was amazing,” Danny said just before heading to the Fremantle Beach convalescence session. “I’ve always desperately wanted to come back.
“Deep down I always hoped there might be a chance, but it was hard to base your dreams on.
“When I get this opportunity, it feels like the first time again. It’s weird being the oldest but youngest person.
“An amazing young talent is emerging, training with 19-year-olds like Henry Arundell and Will Joseph.
“It’s scary how much Will is like his brother Jonathan 11 years later. Mannerisms, the way he passes, he plays the piano, everything.
– Do you remember how JJ looked back when he was taking a break? This is crazy.
“I was at the gym today with Arundell and he was squatting something stupid like 200 kg and I had to shuffle!
Half of the Harlequin scrum made more successful passes than any other player last season
“It reminds me a bit of the moment Mathew Tait first appeared on stage.
“All these guys are eager to learn. It’s great. When you step onto the pitch, you just chase them trying to catch them.
“It was great to come back, especially here in Australia, where we have good memories and hope to create more.”
It’s been four years since Danny’s last hat, and I was curious to see how things had changed.
The international camps used to be very serious and intense. The training was hard and we probably lost our sense of fun. Is it different now?
“It’s different,” he said. “He is still intense and training hard, and it should be, but off the pitch he is much more laid back.
– There is a young group in charge of this. Guys like Gengey and Luke Cowan-Dickie alongside Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell.
“The young guys really get off the pitch. You get a lot of free time in the afternoon. On Sunday evening we are going to the State of Origin game.
Care believes England will recover from a recent surprise loss to the barbarians
“The bottom line is that everyone tries to do things with a smile on their face. There is a great pleasure culture. Love it.
“No matter how long I play, I will enjoy it. I’m here everyday with a smile on my face.
Our 2016 Australian tour, which we won 3-0, was one of my favorite shows with England.
I will never forget Danny and Jamie George during Ant and Dec’s double midweek entertainment.
They set up their own version of “I’m a star … get me out of here” and somehow got a lot of spiders, snakes and lizards for those bushtucker rehearsals in the band room.
They put a blindfold on Kyle Sinckler and he was terrified!
On the pitch, this tour was so hostile. We have been abused in every game. Love it.
There were articles in the Australian press that absolutely slandered us. Did the older guys share this experience?
“Eddie wants us older boys to pass on some wisdom to younger boys,” Danny said.
“It’s a hostile environment to wear your England shirt here. You’re not liked, and that’s one of the best feelings when you come here and win.
“You know what it was like when we won 3-0, but it will be even tougher than it was six years ago.
“Australia is getting in shape, has some of its overseas players back and Quade Cooper is running the show.”
“We want to be brave and attack the teams. Michael Vaughan came over one day and told about his experience playing in Australia with the English cricket team.
“They had different levels of success, but when they were successful, they were brave and attacked them.
“Hopefully we can be brave, play confrontational, play fast and break free our own line of defense, which is scary and exciting.
“With Marcus Smith and Farrell joining, they are two of the best players on the ball.
The 35-year-old played under Eddie Jones in England’s 3-0 victory over Australia in 2016
“Hopefully we can get them some quick ball and then we’ll have a lot of gas to finish.
“I’d like to get involved in this new English way of thinking about being brave and fast in space play.”
It’s hard to look beyond a pair of 10-12 Smith and Farrell next week given Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are both missing.
Hopefully Danny will start with them because he’s as good as everyone else at this fast-paced game.
Given that neither team has shown their hand yet, this series is hard to test. I would give Australia a small advantage with my own host advantage, but England won’t be intimidated.
The RFU does not appear to be putting much pressure on Eddie, but he could use some positive results to increase his public support.
I was surprised by his optimism after losing 50 points to the Barbarians last week. Does it get soft as it ages?
– I wouldn’t say soft! Danny said. “We played differently than in the test match. Several things have worked and some have not.
“In the end, there were 14 point swings where we dropped the ball and they were going long.
Care will be hoping to impress in Australia as he wants to cement his place on the England squad for the World Cup next year
– Looks like you’ve been mauled. The 50-point Baa-Baas is not good enough, but there will be a different feel to how we play against the Aussies.
“We know we can’t play like that at the test match level.
“Eddie said he was proud of how we stuck to it. He still has a bite in training. Every failure is on people.
– He’s so meticulous in details. If you’re not at the right height or at the right angle for every crash, he’s hitting you.
‘This is what you want. You want to be trained by the best. No stone is turned with it and we hope we can give them some trouble.
Before we are finished, I can’t let Danny leave, let alone the elephant in the room.
During his years outside the camp in England, he was an expert for the BBC and never hesitated to take a critical look at Jones’ tactics.
I’m ready with some old headlines on my phone, but Danny quickly jumps in.
“If we could skip them, it would be great!” He said. – Please remove them! Just be as nice as you can!
Hope it takes a while before we hear Danny on the mic again. After the pain of leaving together in 2019, I’d like nothing more than to see him kicking around and competing in next year’s World Cup.