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England record-breaker Care's sights set on beating Wales

© AFP/File / by Julian GUYER | Some 43 of Danny Care's 77 caps have come as a replacement

BAGSHOT (UNITED KINGDOM) (AFP) - 

Danny Care's pride in becoming England's most-capped scrum-half will count for little if the side fail to beat Wales in the Six Nations at Twickenham.

Saturday is set to see Care top World Cup-winner Matt Dawson's record of 77 England appearances in the key position after he was promoted from the bench following Ben Youngs's tournament-ending knee injury during the champions' victory in their Six Nations opener away to Italy last weekend.

"It's a massive honour to overtake Matt, who was a hero of mine growing up," said Harlequins No.9 Care.

"I loved the way he played the game, so to overtake him in caps is brilliant," added the 31-year-old.

"He texted me last weekend to say well done when I equalled his record, but he said he'd save the soppy one for Saturday."

Both England and Wales come into this second-round game on the back of convincing wins.

England beat Italy 46-15 at the Stadio Olimpico while Wales upset many forecasts by thrashing Scotland 34-7 in Cardiff.

"It's a massive game any time you play Wales in the Six Nations," said Care. "It's the one you get up for, you think about all season and it's coming this Saturday.

"My main motto throughout my career has been to enjoy every moment and what can't you enjoy about England v Wales at home in front of 82,000 when you're breaking the record as England's most capped scrum-half?

"It will be a special day for me and my family, but it won't count for much unless we get the win. Hopefully after the game I can celebrate then."

Care's Test career started a decade ago with couple of heavy defeats in New Zealand.

"I've never looked too far ahead and never thought I'd reach this point, especially after how badly we were beaten by the All Blacks in my first couple of caps," he said.

"It's been brilliant and one hell of a journey and I want to get 78 more if I can because I love playing for England.

"I've got a slightly better haircut now compared to back then, but not too much! I'm probably a bit wiser and I'd hope not as rash.

"I've played in some big games and have experienced highs and lows. Hopefully that's moulded me into the player I am now."

Care's career is an example of how international rugby union is increasingly about the 23-man matchday squad rather than the starting XV.

Of his 77 caps, 43 have come as a replacement.

Youngs has been England's first-choice scrum-half under coach Eddie Jones, with Care starting in in just six of the Australian's 24 Tests in charge.

But Care said the former Australia and Japan coach had urged him to trust his instincts regardless of when he took the field.

"Eddie's told me to back myself, the first decision that comes into your head is probably the right one," he explained.

"Ben is a great leader and is a loss, but it's great for me to come in and show what I can do from the start."

by Julian GUYER

© 2018 AFP