Danny Care says he can’t wait to see his “amazing” and “special” Harlequins partner Marcus Smith play for England.
Smith, 22, uncapped, is expected to be called up for the England squad on Monday ahead of the tryouts against the United States and Canada.
Smith set to make test debut
An international debut is on the horizon, and Care paid a glowing tribute to him after the opening half’s two late nerve-racking conversions on the sideline supported an extraordinary 40-38 Premiership final victory over Exeter .
“This kid is amazing, this kid is special, I can’t wait to see him in an English jersey this summer,” said the scrum half of Quins Care.
“Marcus and (Quins teammates) Alex Dombrandt, Joe Marchant, Louis Lynagh, Tyrone Green, those kind of guys, you don’t want to put them in a box.
“You don’t want to force them to do a certain thing – let them play.
“Over the past six months, we’ve given them the freedom to play what they see and support themselves, and to do it with a smile on their face.
“With such an instinctive player like Marcus, the last thing you want to do is force structure on him.
“We absolutely loved what he brought to this team. His leadership is incredible for such a young man.
“I’m so happy for him that he gets the recognition he deserves, and now he has a Premiership medal. I hope he has an amazing summer, and I know he has an amazing future.
Quins looked down six months ago, beaten 49-7 at home by opponents in Heineken Champions Cup Racing 92, then seeing rugby chief Paul Gustard leave the club a few weeks later.
The turnaround, however, was remarkable as Quins won 13 of his next 18 Premiership games to clinch his first title since 2012.
Care, who won the Premiership nine years ago, added: “We did it our way. This is why, for me, this club is so unique.
“It’s been a very long time – nine years seemed very long to me – but I woke up on Saturday, saw the sun shining just like nine years ago, and thought it would be our day.
“The belief that we have in the way we play, I would like to think that we have inspired some kids to pick up a rugby ball.
“I was taking out the trash the other night, and a guy stopped all the traffic and put his head out the window just to say that (Quins’ 43-36 play-off win over Bristol) was the best rugby game he had ever seen and his kids were playing rugby now because of the way we play.
“For us it’s a victory if we inspire the kids and hopefully show a way to play rugby that kids can enjoy.
“This year is unique, this year is different. Without the Saracens (Premiership), we said it was the year to win it because it’s a completely different team from ours.
“We hope we made a lot of people smile, and we did it our way. I’ve been here for a long time, I love the club and I’m so happy that people got to experience this day. “
Care, meanwhile, paid tribute to Quins longtime English mainstay Joe Marler, who was named man of the match after a magnificent overall performance.
“The man is one of a kind, on and off the pitch,” said Care. “He’s my player of the year, without a doubt. Not just for his contribution on the pitch, but for the way he is off the pitch.
“If a guy has to wear a pink tracksuit to make it to the final, he has to save it, and Joe does it every time.
“He’s an absolute monster and he’s an absolute legend. I love him to the end and I’m so happy he’s part of my team.