London – England coach Stuart Lancaster has warned scrum-half Danny Care he is “treading a very fine line” following his recall to the Test squad for next month's tour of South Africa.
Lancaster left Harlequins number nine Care on the sidelines during his arrest for drink-driving in the early hours of New Year's Day.
That was one of four recent incidents that have brought Care into contact with the police and the 25-year-old is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, a claim he denies.
However, Lancaster, having recently met with Care, whom he first knew when they were both at Leeds, was confident the case won't disrupt England's tour.
“In order to be an England player on the field you have to be able to lead yourself off the field. Danny needed to reassure me he could,” Lancaster said Thursday after naming his 42-man squad for the five-match tour which features three Tests against the Springboks.
“I met Danny. I am pleased with the progress he has made and the maturity he is now showing off the field.
“It is a great opportunity but equally he knows he is treading a very fine line, but I trust him enough to have the confidence to take him.
“He is a player in form and playing at a good club who are in a big (Premiership) semi-final this weekend.
“I spoke to the solicitor involved (in the case) and there will be nothing happening during the tour. There is no period where he will be brought back during the tour.
“I am very much with Conor (O'Shea, Harlequins director of rugby) on this one – we understand the context of what went on that particular evening and Danny's selection is the right one.”
Saturday's semi-final will see Care, who has been in fine form of his career this season, go up against Northampton's Lee Dickson, the incumbent England scrum-half.
Care told Wednesday's London Evening Standard he'd stopped drinking alcohol in a bid to revive his England career, saying:
“It's been a while off the booze now. I don't have a drink problem Ä but I've made bad decisions when I've been drinking and now, hopefully, the trouble will go away.”
Meanwhile, James Haskell was also recalled to the England squad after missing the Six Nations in order to play for the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and the Otago Highlanders in New Zealand.
Haskell has been drafted into the squad, along with uncapped flankers Carl Fearns and Tom Johnson, after England lost Tom Wood and Tom Croft to injury and Calum Clark to suspension.
Haskell is set to return to the Premiership next season with a move back to Wasps and Lancaster said: “I have never coached James. When I saw his performances in the World Cup and the Six Nations before then, he is clearly a very good player.
“He is coming back to England and it is an opportunity, we have lost key men at blindside, and I am looking forward to working for him.”
Lancaster's squad features 13 uncapped players, including the Wasps pair of wing Christian Wade and flanker Joe Launchbury, Saracens full-back Alex Goode and London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph.
England, runners-up in the Six Nations under Lancaster, begin their tour with the first Test against South Africa at Durban on June 9. – Sapa-AFP