Danny Care has plunged from hero to zero after being dropped by Eddie Jones for Saturday’s England vs Australia showdown.
A year ago, Care was hailed as “brilliant” by Jones for coming off the bench against the Wallabies and masterminding England’s late, late win.
“He was here, there and everywhere – like a little Alexis Sanchez,” raved Jones over a 10-minute cameo which brought Care one try and two assists.
This Saturday though, against the same opposition, the scrum-half will not even get on the pitch after Jones ruled that he should carry the can for Japan embarrassing his team.
“Selection is always a response to performance,” said the boss, cutting the Yorkshireman from the entire squad along with Alex Lozowski and No.8 Zach Mercer. “We weren’t happy with some aspects on Saturday and he can go away and work on them.”
Care’s 84-cap career has been a triumph for perseverance. Just five Englishmen have played more times for their country – yet only twice since Jones came to power has he started two Tests in a row.
It would be ludicrous to write off the Harlequin, who is desperate to play in a World Cup after missing 2011 through injury and not figuring in 2015 before England were eliminated. But he now has work to do having fallen behind perennial rivals Ben Youngs and 35-year-old Richard Wigglesworth in the pecking order.
Against Japan, England players admitted their attitude and intensity levels dropped off after Care opened the scoring.
One of the main duties of a scrum-half is to set tone and tempo.
Not for the first time, the No.9 has paid for a collective failing.
Lozowski and Mercer would have seen their demotion coming from a longer way off.
The Saracens centre missed the one-on-one tackle which allowed opposite number Ryoto Nakamura to snatch Japan’s opening try and was unceremoniously hooked at half-time.
Mercer lasted only nine longer before Jones curtailed his full debut. Nathan Hughes, available again after suspension, returns in his place.
Manu Tuilagi is once again doubtful – as is Chris Ashton, who has had a scan on his injured calf.
England remain fourth in the world rankings, two places ahead of an Australia team which has lost nine of its last 13 Tests.
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