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Diamond sings Cipriani praise

Sale Sharks' director of rugby Steve Diamond believes Danny Cipriani deserves England recognition following another excellent display against Northampton Saints.

Alongside a pack which dominated their east midlands opponents, Cipriani guided his team around the field superbly as they secured a 20-7 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.

With England coach Stuart Lancaster watching, Diamond insisted that the Sale stand-off should be given an opportunity with the national team.

"I think it's unfair for Danny if his selection for England should be picked on the performance of the team all the time," he said.

"Danny played well but he's been playing well all year. If he doesn't get an opportunity then that's up to the England selectors. On the basis of the past three months in the European Cup and the league, he deserves a shot."

Cipriani's deal with the Sharks finishes at the end of the campaign and his England future could determine where he plays his club rugby in 2015-16, with Toulon rumoured to be interested in his services, but Diamond is not concerned about that stumbling block.

He added: "If he doesn't get picked and he goes then we will find somebody else so that's the way it happens at Sale and there's no other way you can look at it."

Despite Sale's victory, Diamond was frustrated with the refereeing of Matthew Carley as they were denied a potential penalty try.

"I've got to be careful with what I say as I get into trouble with what I say about the salary cap and I get into trouble when I say things about referees, but I know for a fact that if we were on the receiving end of being pushed over our own line twice, we would have conceded a penalty try," he said.

"I asked the question to the referee, 'why?' That's what we did to them yet we don't get it, it's ridiculous, so I'm not happy we don't get the rub of the green with referees."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted that the Saints' injury problems in the second-row caught up with them having gone into the game without Courtney Lawes, Samu Manoa and Christian Day.

Mallinder said: "You need players in specialist positions and one of those positions is big, tall and heavy second-rows. Unfortunately, we ran out of them today, but it's one of those things.

"I thought the two men who stepped in worked their socks off. It was a great effort from them but on the day, we just weren't good enough.

"I will be putting quite a lot of pressure on our medics over the next few days to make sure that they're all back.

"Samu's in America and he will return tomorrow (Sunday) and the injury situation is looking quite positive, so all three should be fit for next week (against the Ospreys)."

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