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Care wishes bad luck on the Irish

Danny Care hopes the cruel luck that ended England's Grand Slam quest on the opening day of the RBS 6 Nations returns to torment Ireland when the tournament reaches its climax.

While a late run from Gael Fickou ultimately sent Stuart Lancaster's men crashing to an undeserved 26-24 defeat in Paris, it was two fortuitous bounces of the ball that enabled the French to plunder a brace of early tries.

England would be challenging for the Grand Slam against Italy in Rome on Saturday but for that painful evening in Paris and now find themselves in a three-way shoot-out for the Six Nations crown.

Brian O'Driscoll's men are in the driving seat due to their imposing points difference, but a dismal Irish record of a solitary victory in Paris since 1972 ensures success against even a feeble Les Bleus is far from assured.

England have admitted to being haunted by events at the Stade de France six weeks ago, but Care insists they can take solace in the Triple Crown secured after Sunday's 29-18 win against Wales.

"If we've got the win in Italy then a couple of kind bounces in Paris would be nice!" the Harlequins scrum-half said.

"If we go and win against Italy we'll be happy. Obviously we'll look back at the French game and be disappointed, but we can feel incredibly proud of our last three performances.

"We bounced back from that loss to win a Triple Crown. I've heard people say it means nothing, but I don't agree with that."

The Stadio Olimpico showdown launches the final day, giving Ireland and France the advantage of knowing what they must do to snatch the title from their rivals.

England's best-case scenario is to overwhelm Italy by at least 50 points, but Care refuses to look beyond securing the result.

"We're not thinking about the points difference at all. It hasn't even been spoken about," Care said.

"It's putting in another big performance and getting the win. That's all we want. The other stuff will take care of itself.

"It's in the hands of the gods really. We'll hope France can play well and get the win but for us it's about going there and playing against a really tough team in Italy."

Should the necessary deluge of tries materialise, Care will undoubtedly be at the heart of the action.

The 27-year-old has been the catalyst for England's attacking game since he was restored at scrum-half at the start of the Six Nations, his try against Wales an example of his quick thinking.

Taking advantage of a defensive lapse from the champions, a quick-tap penalty enabled him to dart over from close range and touch down before holding his arms aloft to savour the moment.

"I looked back after diving over because I didn't know where their defence was," Care said.

"Looking back on it, Leigh Halfpenny was tripped over by Dan Lydiate so I have to thank Lydiate for an assist there. He did chop him at the ankles!

"Wales were a little bit late to get back into line. We'd said at the start we want to go after them and play at high intensity.

"I don't really know what happened in that 10 seconds after I scored the try. I got lost in the moment a little bit.

"I'd like to be able to celebrate like (former Arsenal striker) Thierry Henry as if nothing's happened but with the crowd how it was and because of the size of the game, I thought I'd enjoy the moment."

Manchester United stars Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick visited the changing room to congratulate the team, but Liverpool fan Care was unimpressed.

"I steered clear because I'm sticking to my Liverpool roots!" he said.

"I'm just waiting for Steven Gerrard to come and watch us play and I'm sure I'll be the first one there with the selfies!"


From Belfast Telegraph