Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Cipriani boosted by starting role

Danny Cipriani will start against the Crusaders

Danny Cipriani has begun his climb up England's fly-half pecking order after his successful international reintegration was rewarded with a first start since 2008.

Cipriani is a surprise inclusion in the XV to face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Tuesday in the only midweek fixture scheduled for the June tour to New Zealand.

In a vote of confidence in the Sale playmaker, he keeps Stephen Myler on the bench despite having been behind his Northampton rival until his return to England's squad last month after a six-year hiatus.

Cipriani won his eighth cap as a substitute in the 20-15 defeat by the All Blacks in the first Test at Eden Park when Aviva Premiership finalists Myler and Owen Farrell were unavailable, but did not expect to be involved at the AMI Stadium on Tuesday.

"I thought it was down to how you'd trained and how you went from the beginning of the camp and I didn't expect to get a start in any games really," he said.

"I was just here to learn and make sure I kept up with the play book as quickly as possible and then put my hand up and say this is what I can do.

"I'm not even honestly looking to try to advance myself in the pecking order.

"It's a 24-hour job and you have to keep learning the whole time, especially when you are new in the squad. It's good the way that the boys integrated everyone."

New Zealand have already established an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Test series, but Cipriani insists head coach Stuart Lancaster is presiding over a harmonious camp nonetheless.

"Someone mentioned to me when I was doing an interview that in past England regimes there were cliques or whatever. I've never experienced that here at all," he said.

"I don't think Stuart would allow that with the culture he's developing.

"It's been easy for all the new boys, for myself and everyone coming back into the squad. It's just about putting my hand up and saying this is what I can do.

"We've all thoroughly enjoyed playing together. We're putting on an England shirt and there's no greater honour, whether we're playing against the Crusaders or the All Blacks.

"I'm just excited to be here and being in the England kit now is a good feeling."

Cipriani arrived as a final-quarter substitute at Eden Park and made an impressive contribution, setting off on one eye-catching break and kicking a tricky penalty.

"I didn't have long to get in the game. When I got the ball I looked up and saw the shoulders turned inwards and I felt I could just put my foot down and go.

"That is how it was. I wasn't trying to save the match. I was playing each play.

"For the kick, you might look like an important moment from outside but you just take each play for what it is, ignore the situation and surroundings.

"It is about execution and decision-making. It was about me kicking the kick. It was a relatively easy one."

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