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Cipriani to trust his instincts

Danny Cipriani admits he must rediscover his instinctive attacking acumen to rescue his international career in New Zealand after six years in the England wilderness.

Cipriani faces a straight fight with Freddie Burns to start at fly-half in England's first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on June 7.

The 26-year-old concedes he must still prove his desperation to rehabilitate an England career that stalled on seven caps in 2008.

Sale's rejuvenated playmaker is confident England coaches Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell can finally help him realise his full potential.

Jonny Wilkinson's mentor Steve Black has ushered Cipriani back to the straight and narrow in the last 12 months, and even handed the former Wasps outside-half a topical book to read on England's flight to New Zealand.

"The book is called Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell," said Cipriani, still sheepish about being hit by a bus on a pub crawl in Leeds in April 2013.

"It talks about trusting your instinctive decision rather than taking the time to think they are correct and then trying to adjust.

"About 90 per cent of the time our instincts are correct.

"You can take things out of it and apply it to rugby: how you want to play, your decision-making, small things like that.

"It keeps your mind occupied and working.

"Steve is someone to talk to who understands how certain brains work, whether it be Jonny, myself or whoever.

"He sets me different tasks like reading books and talking through them.

"It keeps the mind occupied when you only train for two or three hours a day.

"I knew I had to make some changes, get my head down and do things the rugby way, and that realisation came probably in April last year.

"Ever since I've started working with Steve Black I just made the conscious effort to get my head down and really go for it."

England will be vastly under-strength for the first Test in Auckland, shorn of potentially 15 stars embroiled in the Premiership final just a week earlier.

Premiership finalists Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler and the injured George Ford leave England testing their own depth at fly-half for that series opener.

Head coach Lancaster's midfield will be under more pressure than ever to subdue juggernaut centre Ma'a Nonu, with Cipriani admitting he must sharpen up too.

"I've got so much learning and catching up to do, I know I'm not first choice here so humility has to come with that immediately," he said.

"I feel like I've got room to improve, and I'm excited about that.

"I've talked with Steve that this is definitely a good environment for me to come into.

"I've worked with Stuart before, and he's very straight-talking and I feel he gets the best out of players.

"So does Andy Farrell in the way he speaks, he's very motivating when he talks about most things he does.

"Everyone responds to that very well.

"It will definitely be emotional for me if I manage to play, but I must prepare for the situation.

"I'm excited to be in the squad now but there's a job for me to go and do, hopefully this is just the start."


From Belfast Telegraph