May 10, 2012
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Care bans booze in bid to regain England place

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care said Wednesday he has stopped drinking in a bid to revive his faltering England career.

The 25-year-old was arrested four times in three months and the second of those arrests, for a drink-driving offence in the early hours of New Year's Day that eventually saw him banned from driving for 16 months, led England coach Stuart Lancaster to leave Care out of his Six Nations squad.

The incident prompted Lancaster, who coached Care at Leeds, to restore discipline to an England squad whose World Cup campaign was marred by a series of unsavoury alcohol-related incidents.

Care himself never made it to New Zealand after suffering a toe injury in the World Cup warm-up defeat by Wales in Cardiff in August, where he won the last of his 31 England caps.

But having been left out by England during a Six Nations where they finished runners-up to Grand Slam champions Wales, Care could be recalled when Lancaster names his squad for the tour of South Africa on Thursday.

Care said missing out on the World Cup had been a bigger blow than he'd been prepared to admit at the time.

"It's been a while off the booze now and I do feel fitter and while it's been tough, it has worked," he told Wednesday's London Evening Standard.

"I'm not going to say, 'I will never drink again' and I don't have a drink problem -- but I've made bad decisions when I've been drinking and now, hopefully, the trouble will go away.

"The common theme is that I was getting into trouble when I was out drinking and that's why I stopped.

"I don't think I realised how much the toe injury affected me and people thought I was okay because I put on a smile.

"Looking back, it affected me more than I realised and my mother thinks I was hiding the pain of missing the World Cup having been involved for nearly four years leading into New Zealand.

"(Harlequins' sports psychologist) Kate Hayes thinks frustration did build up, my focus slipped and I took my eye off what was required to be an England number nine."

Care, who is preparing for regular season table-toppers Harlequins' Premiership playoff semi-final against Northampton, is desperate to return to the international arena.

"Playing for England was taken away from me and I'm never going to let that happen again," he said.

"It's been a long time since that Wales game and my aim is to win back that number nine jersey and, fortunately, I'm in a very good Quins team.

"We were the best team in the Premiership but haven't won anything yet and that is why our focus is on Northampton and getting into that final."

AFP

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