England have sprung a surprise by naming Danny Care in their training squad for Sunday’s non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Over three years after making the last of his 84 Test appearances against Japan, Care has been rewarded for his sparkling form for Harlequins by being included in a 36-strong group who are to prepare for the warm-up to next month’s Australia tour.
Players from Gallagher Premiership finalists Saracens and Leicester are missing – they are in action at Twickenham on Saturday – but otherwise Eddie Jones has picked the strongest available squad including the likes of Courtney Lawes and Marcus Smith.
It was thought that Care’s international career was over amid a falling out with Jones, but dynamic scrum-half has propelled himself back into contention through his creativity for Quins.
The 35-year-old has provided the highest number of try assists with 17 in each of the last two Premiership seasons and has been a key figure behind the club’s revival, which included winning the league title in 2021.
He will compete for the number nine jersey with Harry Randall and Alex Mitchell with Leicester’s Ben Youngs unavailable and potentially missing the tour to Australia because of family reasons.
Care’s club season ended with Saturday’s semi-final defeat by Saracens and he is joined in England’s squad by his fellow Quins and players from Northampton, who lost their play-off to Leicester.
Tighthead prop Will Collier returns to the fold after winning his two caps in 2017 following his revival at Twickenham Stoop, but also profiting from a back injury to Kyle Sinckler.
There is no place for Joe Marler, however, with the loosehead omitted against the Barbarians, although he could still feature on tour to Australia.
London Irish’s 19-year-old sensation Henry Arundell is present but Alfie Barbeary, Wasps back row prospect, is missing.
“This is a strong, diverse squad. There are a lot of exciting, young players and some experienced players who have another opportunity to shine,” Jones said.
“Everyone will be given the chance to make their case for being part of the Australia tour squad while we prepare for the Barbarians.
“The Barbarians game at Twickenham is always a great rugby occasion and we know the fans always have a great day out, watching a really entertaining game.
“We’re looking forward to working hard on the training pitch this week so we’re ready for a fantastic match on Sunday.”
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