Cipriani steps back into England spotlight
The wayward England outhalf has one more chance to impress for a World Cup place
Danny Cipriani of Sale spins the ball out during the Aviva Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
England’s controversial outhalf, Danny Cipriani, is expected to be included in an initial squad for the forthcoming Barbarians match and tour to New Zealand. Cipriani is likely to feature among the 18-20 names selected from the six clubs whose season is over — Exeter, Gloucester, London Irish, Newcastle, Sale and Worcester Warriors.
Stuart Lancaster would then decide whether to take the 26-year-old to New Zealand or include him in the squad to play the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 1, the more likely option.
It would be the Sale fly-half’s first England involvement since winning the last of his seven caps in 2008, completing the return to favour of a gifted player who lost his way amid concerns over his attitude and celebrity lifestyle.
Cipriani’s strong form for the Sharks has caught the attention of Lancaster and the head coach insists he will only know how much the former Wasps playmaker has matured if they speak in camp.
“I’ve only spoken to him briefly a couple of times but I’ve known him well from having coached him in my role as Saxons coach,” said Lancaster. “If we pick him, I’ll judge him when I meet him.”
Cipriani’s game-management has been key to Sale’s sixth-place finish in the Premiership this season, just 12 months after the club flirted with relegation.
“I judge players on their form for their club. Reputation and what they’ve done in the past counts for something, but not everything,” Lancaster said. “Danny’s definitely improved and Sale have played well. Danny has controlled the games really well. I’m pleased with what he’s done and he’s in the equation.
“His game management has been the key point this season. His kicking game has been excellent. As with all players, there are areas he can work on.
“If we bring him into camp, our first port of call with him will be to sit him down, go through his game and give him some feedback on what we’re looking for.
“Danny would have to get up to speed with all of that and then deliver at international level in terms of execution. That’s the challenge for players coming into an international side.”
Additional players will be added to the squad after the Aviva Premiership play-offs, which are being staged this weekend. Those involved in the final will miss the first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on June 7 with the final touring squad expected to number 40 players.
Among the players who will come into camp at the Lensbury Club on Sunday will be Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees, who Lancaster is “hopeful” will recover from an ankle injury to play a role in the tour.