Danny Care exclusive interview: Lack of England contingent won’t affect Harlequins vs Saracens intensity

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 (Getty Images)
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It is a shame, in some respects, that the first London derby of the Premiership season takes place this weekend with many of England’s finest already on international duty.

Both Harlequins and Saracens are in rude form, with four wins from five. Quins won the league in stunning fashion, while Sarries were promoted. Saracens, according to Quin Danny Care, are “flying”, having scored 127 points in their last two matches.

So it would have been great fun to watch two fine sides go at each other, at full bore, after a while apart.

Instead, they have lost four players each to England, so Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell might find themselves watching the game together, rather than from opposite sides.

Nevertheless, with 14 internationals in the Sarries squad and Louis Lynagh overlooked by Eddie Jones, there is still much quality — and plenty of needle in the rivalry. “It doesn’t come bigger than Sarries on Sunday,” says Care.

“Their last two performances, 71 and 56 points, they are in a rich vein of form. The rivalry will always be there, two London clubs going at it. We sat watching them lift trophy after trophy, which is tough, but they have done their time and are back with a bang.

“It would have been great for both teams to have a full arsenal, but there will be a lot of quality on the pitch, and another sell-out at The Stoop, which is amazing for us.”

This weekend, Harlequins enter a new phase of their title defence. As they waltzed to the Premiership, they were hardly affected by England call-ups.

Now, they have lost Joe Marler and Marchant, Alex Dombrandt and Smith. This means Care — who has worked so well with No8 Dombrandt and fly-half Smith — will be alongside James Chisholm and Italy’s Tommy Allan this week.

“You just have to deal with it,” says Care, who will skipper Quins, with Stephan Lewies back from injury but on the bench. “It’s brilliant for the club and the individuals that they get a chance to show what they can do in international colours. We have to react and adapt, and show that we have strength in depth.

“You always suffer from your own success in a way, if you do really well you will lose players. But that’s what we want to do, provide England with as many players as possible.”

Unsurprisingly, former England scrum-half Care believes Jones should thrust Dombrandt and Smith straight into his starting XV for the autumn internationals.

“We won the trophy and they were two of our best players week in, week out, with clutch performances,” he says.

“There’s great competition in that squad but they are both chomping at the bit for that opportunity, and the same with Joe Marler. He’s desperate to get back in an England shirt.”

And who should play Care’s role between them? Jones has three options: veteran Ben Youngs or the greenhorns Harry Randall and Raffi Quirke. “Ben’s a steady head with composure and hundreds of caps, which you can’t buy,” he said. “My gut is Eddie will go there.

“But the young guys will be pushing Ben. They play with incredible tempo and if you are going to play Marcus, you have to play someone who will play quickly with him, so I hope one of them gets a good go.”

To be in with a chance of winning two tickets to Big Game 13 this Christmas and a signed Harlequins shirt, click here.

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