Jones holds out slim hope for Cipriani

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:51
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REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones insisted it wasn't the "end of the road" for Danny Cipriani after the flyhalf was left out of a 37-man training squad announced Friday.

Jones has overseen a run of nine straight wins, a sequence that includes a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 series win in his native Australia, since taking charge of England following their first-round exit at last year's World Cup on home soil. 

That perfect record will be at stake when England face South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia on successive weekends at Twickenham, starting with the Springboks on November 12.

"We've left some good players out, Tom Youngs, Kieran Brookes, Dave Attwood, Tom Wood, Joe Simpson, Danny Cipriani, Luther Burrell," Jones told reporters at Twickenham on Friday.

"It's not the end of the road for those guys, they've got an understanding of what they need to do to push themselves into the squad.

"We've got a number of players injured at the moment, probably seven of our top 23 are not playing rugby at the moment.

"It's a great opportunity for us, particularly against high-quality opposition.

"To win the World Cup in 2019 we'll have to win seven games in seven weeks. So you need great depth in your squad to do that," he added.

The 28-year-old Cipriani, now back at Wasps, is one of the most talented playmakers of his generation.

Yet a combination of injuries and disputes with several England coaches mean the former Melbourne Rebels star has been restricted to just 14 Tests since making his debut in 2008.

Jones has never picked Cipriani for England and has made it clear he wants to stick with Mike Ford and Owen Farrell as his first-choice flyhalf/inside centre partnership.

Even though Farrell is now out with a back injury, Jones decided to select the uncapped Alex Lozowski - Farrell's Saracens stand-in and the son of former England international Rob - in an expanded 45-man squad rather than recall Cipriani.

"Danny knows what he's got to do," said Jones. "Look he's a talented player but I said it quite clearly to him: at the moment he's not one or two in England in terms of stand-offs."

The former Australia and Japan coach added: "We see George and Owen together as one and two. They are 23 and 24-years-old, they are the heart of the England side.

"So for Cipriani to get into the squad he's got to be able to show he can be number one.

"I don't see him as a player who comes in the squad as a number three or four player.

"To me he's not that sort of player, he likes to be the main man.

“And when he plays well enough to be number one he'll be in the squad."

As for Farrell, Jones said: "He's the sort of player that can come back very quickly, he needs only a small amount of game time.

"So we're still confident he can come back for November."

Loose forward James Haskell, impressive against Australia, will miss all the upcoming four Tests with a toe injury.

Teimana Harrison is the only openside still fit from the Australia tour.

Sale No.8 Josh Beaumont, the son of 1980 England Grand Slam captain Bill Beaumont, now the chairman of World Rugby, and fellow back-row forwards Nathan Hughes and Mike Williams were among seven uncapped players in the 37 for this weekend's training camp in the south coast town of Brighton.

Jones said he wanted Chris Robshaw to stay on the blindside flank after a frustrating World Cup where the former England captain struggled on the openside.

"We're pretty happy with Chris at six.

"Then at seven we're looking for a destructive defensive player, not your traditional seven player, because at the moment we don't have that in England.

"So Sam Jones and Mike Williams also come into that category."

Agence France-Presse