Danny Care will have at least one opportunity to convince England coach Eddie Jones that he’s the right man for the No 9 jersey after being named to start against Wales in a Six Nations clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
Care marks one of two changes to the side that punched holes in Italy’s defence last week, replacing the injured Ben Youngs while thumper Ben Te’o has been dropped for the more evasive outside centre Jonathan Joseph.
Care is set to become England’s most capped scrumhalf (78), moving past 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson, but Jones has used the Harlequins halfback almost exclusively off the bench over the past two seasons.
Youngs last week broke down with a knee injury that’s jeopardised his availability to face the Springboks on a three-Test tour of South Africa in June.
Widely regarded as one of the best scrumhalves in the game, Youngs’ absence robs England of a prodigious tactical weapon, something that Care has yet to prove he possesses.
Jones announced immediately after the 46-15 win against Italy that he would be calling up “a kicking scrumhalf” to replace Youngs, and Saracens No 9 Richard Wigglesworth has been named on the bench.
According to The Telegraph, Wigglesworth is “probably the finest practitioner of the box-kick in the northern hemisphere… an expert game-manager and has played an instrumental role in European champions Saracens’ recent success.”
“Danny Care very much deserves the honour of being the most capped England scrumhalf and I am sure he’ll make the most of his opportunity on Saturday,” said Jones.
England’s pack is unchanged with Dylan Hartley again leading the side. Sam Simmonds, who scored two tries against Italy, starts at No 8.
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 George Kruis, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell
Date: Saturday, February 10
Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Reynal (France), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)