Danny Care backs Borthwick and talks up England World Cup chances

Danny Care believes England can use their current turmoil to their advantage and spring a surprise at next year’s World Cup, insisting that Steve Borthwick would be “very successful” as Eddie Jones’s replacement.

With just five competitive matches before England begin their World Cup campaign, Borthwick would be up against it to turn a side who won five of their 12 matches in 2022 into contenders. Care, who was left out by Jones this autumn after earning a recall over the summer, said Ireland and France are among the nations out in front.

Care, however, has cited the example of Harlequins, who dispensed with Paul Gustard’s services in January 2021 and went on to clinch the Premiership title five months later, as proof that there is enough time to bring about a change of fortunes.

The Rugby Football Union has targeted Borthwick as Jones’s successor and remains in talks with Leicester over a compensation package for the 43-year-old. No official unveiling is expected before next week.

“On a much smaller scale we showed in a change of coach at the club, when you give us five, six months, and we lifted the trophy when no one thought we could do it,” said Care. “I’d say England’s a similar thing at the moment, no one would think that England would be stood there with the World Cup trophy in October.

“So as an Englishman, you go ‘why not?’. No one thinks we can do it so you can use that as an extra little bit of motivation. But I truly believe in that squad, I do think there’s some brilliant players. If they can be unlocked and unleashed in the right way, and have the right guys leading it, then why not.

“I think if you look at where Leicester were when Steve took over, to where they are now, obviously lifting the [Premiership] trophy last season, he knows how to turn a team around quickly, how to get a team in shape. So if it is to be Steve, I have no doubts that he would be very, very successful.”

Care also urged the new management team to press the reset button when it comes to selection, having been ignored by Jones for nearly four years before his summer recall. “There are a lot of talented players who haven’t had many opportunities over the last few years who are going ‘Ok, this is my shot now’,” he added. “Hopefully it’s a completely fresh piece of paper for the coaches to have a look at everyone – old and young – and see if they can help out this England side.”

Meanwhile, Courtney Lawes is set for a return for Northampton after 11 weeks on the sidelines with a head injury. The 33-year-old, who captained England to the summer series win over Australia, was sorely missed by the national team this autumn. Jones said at the time that he was worried about Lawes’s health after he was also sidelined for six weeks earlier this year due to a problem with his vestibular system. Lawes, however, is expected to take his place on the Northampton bench against La Rochelle on Saturday.