Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Cipriani backed for England return

Sale boss Steve Diamond has backed Danny Cipriani, pictured, to earn an England recall.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond believes Danny Cipriani will eventually receive an England recall if he continues his outstanding form.

In front of the watching Red Rose head coach Stuart Lancaster, Cipriani endured a mixed night with the boot in Sale's 15-3 victory over London Irish, converting just two out of six kicks.

But the fly-half was impressive in open play, setting up Tom Brady's try, and Diamond insists his form cannot be ignored by the international selectors for long.

"There's a lot of press about Danny at the moment," he said. "Danny's playing well as he's playing for the team. What he's done is matured.

"We don't want to talk about playing for England just yet, just let him keep playing the game he's playing and if the opportunity comes in the Six Nations then brilliant, if it doesn't then there's the summer tour.

"But if he plays like he is playing and he controls the game like he is then the England coaches will definitely have to have a look at him.

"Danny played well tonight, he had a tough start in the conditions by kicking long, but the difference in Danny now to when he was playing elsewhere is that he's consolidated his game a little bit."

Diamond was also pleased with his side's efforts in the first half of this season having now secured five wins from 10 Premiership games to see them reside comfortably in mid-table.

He added: "Overall, we're in a good position. We're moving away from the bottom four and with another couple of wins in other competitions, we could be in the quarter-finals of two other tournaments.

"We're in a far better place than we were this time last year but in reality we're in about the place that the squad, I and the coaches thought we would be in the summer if we played to our optimum, and we've done that."

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was frustrated with the scrum after conceding a number penalties at the set-piece.

"I was a little disappointed that we had 10 scrum penalties go against us," Smith said. "The scrums were going backwards but there was binding on the arms.

"Sale played the conditions fairly well so fair play to Sale but there was a crazy bounce on a cross-field kick for their first try and seven points is always going to be a lot on a night like this."

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