Danny Care excited to see Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith in an England jersey

Danny Care says he cannot wait to see his “incredible” and “special” Harlequins half-back partner Marcus Smith play for England.

Uncapped 22-year-old Smith looks set to be called up on Monday for the England squad ahead of Test matches against the United States and Canada.

An international debut looms large, and Care paid him a glowing tribute after the fly-half’s two nerveless late touchline conversions underpinned an extraordinary 40-38 Gallagher Premiership final victory over Exeter.

Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs – Gallagher Premiership – Final – Twickenham Stadium
Marcus Smith celebrates Harlequins’ Gallagher Premiership title success (Nigel French/PA)

“That kid is incredible, that kid is special, I cannot wait to see him in an England jersey this summer,” Quins scrum-half Care said.

“Marcus and (Quins team-mates) Alex Dombrandt, Joe Marchant, Louis Lynagh, Tyrone Green, those type of guys, you don’t want to put them in a box.

“You don’t want to force them to have to do a certain thing – let them play.

“The last six months we have just given them the freedom to play what they see and back themselves, and do it with a smile on their face.

“With a player that is so instinctive like Marcus, the last thing you want to do is force structure on him.

“We have absolutely loved what he has brought to this team. His leadership is incredible for such a young guy.

“I am so happy for him he has got the recognition that he deserves, and now he has got a Premiership medal. Hopefully, he has an incredible summer, and I know he has got an incredible future.”

Quins looked down and out six months ago, beaten 49-7 at home by Heineken Champions Cup opponents Racing 92 and then seeing head of rugby Paul Gustard depart the club just a few weeks later.

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The turnaround, though, was remarkable as Quins won 13 of their next 18 Premiership games to clinch a first title since 2012.

Care, a Premiership winner nine years ago, added: “We have done it our way. That is why, for me, this club is so unique.

“It has been an awful long time – nine years felt like an awful long time – but I woke up on Saturday, saw the sun shining exactly like nine years ago, and I thought it would be our day.

“The belief we have in the way we play, I would like to think we have inspired some kids to pick up a rugby ball.

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“I was putting the bins out the other night, and a guy stopped all the traffic and put his head out of his window just to say that (Quins’ 43-36 play-off victory over Bristol) was the best game of rugby he had ever seen and his kids were now playing rugby because of the way we are playing.

“For us, that is a win if we are inspiring kids and are hopefully showing a way of rugby that kids can enjoy.

“This year is unique, this year is different. Without Saracens in it (Premiership), we said this is the year to win it because they are a completely different team to what we are.

“We hope we have put smiles on a lot of people’s faces, and we have done it our way. I have been here a long time, I love the club, and I am just so happy that people have got to experience this day.”

Leicester Tigers v Harlequins – Gallagher Premiership – Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Harlequins prop Joe Marler (Zac Goodwin/PA)’

Care, meanwhile, paid tribute to Quins’ long-serving England prop Joe Marler, who was named man-of-the-match following a magnificent all-round performance.

“The man is one of a kind, on and off the field,” Care said. “He is my player of the year, without a doubt. Not just for his on-field contribution, but how he is off-field.

“If a guy is going to wear a pink tracksuit to turn up to a final, he has got to back it up, and Joe does it every single time.

“He is an absolute freak and he is an absolute legend. I love him to bits, and I am so happy he is on my team.”