Danny Care hoping Harlequins can mount successful title defence
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 20/04/13 6:48pm
Danny Care hopes past experience can help Harlequins to beat the odds again and defend their Aviva Premiership title.
Reigning champions Quins still have two games of the regular season to come - starting at Worcester on Saturday - and they are yet to guarantee a play-off berth.
They are, however, determined to get across that particular line and put themselves in contention for back-to-back crowns.
England international Care is aware of how difficult that task will be, given that Quins will not end this campaign as league winners, but feels they can take inspiration from the exploits of another title-winning side in their efforts to do things the hard way.
He told Sky Sports: "Last year we were number one the whole way through, pretty much. Everyone was chasing us and the pressure was really on us. Luckily we managed to go all the way.
"It's a bit different this year because we aren't going to finish first and we are probably going to go away in the semi-final. It's a different challenge, but one that we are all looking forward to.
"I'm a big Leeds Rhinos fan and we can draw a lot from what they have been doing in the last couple of years, finishing fifth but still going on to win the Grand Final. The beauty in this competition is that you don't have to finish first. Hopefully we can still do it finishing third or fourth.
"They (the Rhinos) have got some world-class players who know what it is like to win trophies from the front, but also coming from behind to win them. It's a lot about self-belief as well and knowing that you have been there before and done it. We have got that now. We have played in big games, we have gone to big teams and won. Hopefully we can do that again."
Care added: "We had a brilliant start again this year. We were top of the pile for quite a long time, it's just happens that we have had a dip in form. Every team does now and again, things don't go your way, you don't play as well as you can. But it's all about finishing strong and we have hopefully got four massive games.
"We aren't in the Heineken any more so we can move on and learn from that one and focus on the Aviva Premiership.
"It's a massive game this weekend against Worcester, then Northampton the week after. We are all focused on Worcester. It's always a tough place to go and play, but hopefully we can go down there and play well. It's looking like it's going to be an away semi-final, but we just need to finish the season as strongly as possible."
"It's a massive learning curve. I think you can learn as much in defeats as you can from your victories, and that emotion, how everyone felt after the game, none of us will want to feel like that again."
Quins slipped out of Europe on the back of a narrow defeat to Munster, but Care believes a quarter-final exit may actually play into their hands - regardless of how disappointing it may have been at the time.
He said: "I think if we were still involved in two tournaments, it might have been a bit too much for us.
"Obviously it was a massive disappointment losing that game, it was one of the biggest games in the club's history. But we didn't play well enough and fair play to Munster, they came with a very direct game plan, a simple game plan, and they executed it really well. We have only got one target now, and that's to retain our title.
"It's a massive learning curve. I think you can learn as much in defeats as you can from your victories, and that emotion, how everyone felt after the game, none of us will want to feel like that again. Hopefully we can do our best to draw from these experiences individually and as a team and learn from where we went wrong and put it right."
Care is hoping his season will end on the highest of highs domestically, but he is also pleased with the contribution he has made internationally this season with England and is refusing to give up in his quest to secure a place in the British and Irish Lions squad for this summer's tour of Australia.
He said: "Yeah, I'm really happy with how it's gone. I've been happy with my form. I've been a big part of the season. We have got a massive couple of weeks to look forward to and hopefully we can end on a high.
"It's (the Lions) out of my hands completely, it depends what they want to do with it. But I just need to look to end the season as strongly as I can, try to help Quins win another few games and see what happens."
For tickets to the 2013 Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on the 25th May at Twickenham Stadium, visit ticketmaster.co.uk.