Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby World Cup

Cipriani deserves chance to stake World Cup claim, maintains Jones

 

By Duncan Bech

Danny Cipriani has been included in a senior England squad for the first time under Eddie Jones with the Wasps fly-half also being considered at full-back.

Cipriani will travel to South Africa next month as part of a 34-man group three years after winning the last of his 14 caps and a decade since making his most recent Test start.

The 30-year-old's sparkling form for Wasps prompted Sir Clive Woodward to state it would be an "utter disgrace" if he were to be overlooked.

Jones has shelved his previous misgivings over Cipriani's attitude in a team environment to present him the chance to stake his claim 16 months out from the World Cup.

"I've watched him play closely and he deserves an opportunity," Jones said. "He's done some things I've asked him to do in games and I'm happy to give him the opportunity. He can add value to the squad at this stage.

"He has a role to do and that's to prove he's the best 10 in the squad, or the best 15. We wouldn't have picked him if we didn't think he was capable."

Jones had previously stated that Cipriani could only be included in a squad as a first-choice fly-half, a scenario that would have been unlikely due to the presence of Owen Farrell and George Ford.

More controversial than Cipriani's return is the decision to pick flanker Brad Shields - one of eight uncapped players among the 34 - despite the Hurricanes captain being midway through the Super Rugby season.

Shields was born and raised in New Zealand but has never been capped by the All Blacks and qualifies for England through his parents.

"My responsibility is to pick England-qualified players. I get a list and pick the best. I don't decide the regulations," said Jones.

Farrell is to captain the squad as Dylan Hartley misses the tour because of concussion, and Billy Vunipola has been selected despite hamstring injury struggles.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph