DANNY Care has brushed off suggestions that Wales are in the midst of a scrum-half crisis, tipping Rhys Webb to pick up the mantle for good.
Care was outstanding in England’s Six Nations victory over Wales at Twickenham, outshining first Webb and then Mike Phillips and proving a considerable point to Warren Gatland, who left him out of his Lions squad last summer.
Webb didn’t have his best match against England but then, Leigh Halfpenny aside, nor did any of his teammates and only an ankle injury picked up at Twickenham, denied him the chance to make a third Wales start against Scotland.
Prior to the England clash, 25-year-old Webb impressed in his first ever Wales start against France and in doing so, allayed fears that with Phillips seemingly on the decline, Gatland’s scrum-half options are limited.
And Care believes that the Osprey is the man to replace Phillips in the long-term, citing the Scarlets’ 20-year-old Rhodri Williams – who shone against Harlequins in his side’s Heineken Cup victory at the Stoop earlier in the season – as proof that there is strength in depth available to Gatland.
“I thought Rhys played really well, it was sad to see him go down injured,” said Care, HSBC Ambassador for the Rosslyn Park Sevens.
“He was filling some big shoes in Mike Phillips and I thought he did that really well in the France game and then against us.
“I’m sure he will be the star of the future for them for a long time to come. It’s a young lad against an older lad. Rhys got his chance and I thought he took it.
“I’m sure he would have played the last game as well if he hadn’t of got injured. It is always hard for him, filling someone else’s boots like that and you have to play well to warrant that.
“But I really think he is great player, he is a sniping threat, he’s got a good kicking game, he’s got everything you need. I’m not sure how it’s going to go.
“Obviously Mike has been around for ages and is a world class player. Warren Gatland likes to play him, “I’m not sure but they have got two great world class scrum-halves there and then the lad Williams who plays for the Scarlets, he played well for us as well so they’ve got some talent there.”
There were plenty who saw England’s victory as a successful revenge mission for the record-breaking 30-3 thumping dished out by Wales at the Millennium Stadium 12 months previous.
Care does not agree however, insisting that it will have little bearing on the next clash between the two sides at Twickenham – their World Cup pool clash.
“Everyone was building up the Wales game as this big revenge game from last year but we didn’t see it as that at all,” he added.
“We just saw it as another game in this year’s tournament that we had to win. Luckily we did and I thought we won well, like they did to us the year before.
“I think it’s always great to beat your local teams but it won’t mean anything for the World Cup.
“That’s a different level altogether and we know there is a lot to come between now and then. We’re going to have to play very well again to beat them in the World Cup.”
BLOB England Rugby Union and former England Sevens player, Danny Care was speaking on behalf of HSBC at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens where he helped run HSBC coaching clinics for schools during the tournament. For more information visit www.rpns7.co.uk