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Cipriani must use Care as example

With his inclusion in Stuart Lancaster’s 20-man England training squad, the redemption of Danny Cipriani appears to be almost complete.

In his six-year absence from the Test scene (his last cap was in 2008) Cipriani has never been far from the headlines but finally this year it has been because of the rugby.

Lancaster has been very clear form the beginning of his tenure that off-field misdemeanors will not be tolerated, his jettisoning of Danny Care earlier in his reign being the most obvious example.

It is the lesson of Care that must inspire Cipriani now, and fill England supporters with excitement. Care took his punishment, not that he had a lot of choice, made changes to his behaviour, and has since been welcomed back into the squad, culminating in his sensational Six Nations performances.

That is the example that Cipriani must keep following, and that is the end product that England fans will be craving, as indeed will Stuart Lancaster.

For all of England’s Six Nations promise, there is still a felling that there is not enough of a threat coming from the 10 channel, it is a large reason for the huge wave of support for Bath’s George Ford. Cipriani has the ability and the rugby intelligence to be that threat and to unlock the England back line. It is not hard to imagine Mike Catt rather enjoying making use of Cipriani’s distribution skills.

Not that Owen Farrell has done a bad job, in fact the improvement in his all round game has been notable and by standing flatter he made his most telling international contributions to date during the Six Nations, however it is not his natural game.

That said, it will take far more than a decent club season and a call up to the England squad for Cipriani to oust him. Farrell is England’s most reliable kicker since Jonny Wilkinson and in a World Cup there is not a lot that is more important than that; he is England’s number one for a reason.

Furthermore, Cipriani must first see off the challenges of Henry Slade and Freddie Burns (an EPS member let’s not forget) in this England training squad, before he even has a chance of stepping ahead of either Farrell or Ford, while Stephen Myler at Northampton Saints should not be discounted either.

The fact is though that Cipriani is one of the greatest English talents of his generation. The waste of that talent over the past six years has almost been heart-breaking. His job now is to demonstrate to Stuart Lancaster that the changes he has made are permanent, and that crucially, he understands that rugby, and this England team in particular, is all about the team.

Lancaster has no room for mavericks, and Cipriani must demonstrate that he can fit into the game plan and the system that England plan to use. By doing that, and by trying to get the best from both himself and his teammates, he will find that opportunities to impose his own style on the game will appear.

Danny Care has shown that, of all the England players he perhaps has the most similar story to Cipriani, his off field problems aside, Care was lambasted in the past for trying things on his own too often, for running when then sensible option was for points and for focusing on the exciting at the expense of the basics.

He now seems to have understood that and as a result played with great maturity in the Six Nations and was therefore able to pick his moments to show his full range of skills far better.

That is the challenge for Cipriani, prove to Lancaster that the bad boy days are gone, demonstrate that he can fit into England’s style, and work with Mike Catt to bring his backline into play and to understand when his maverick moments can be used.

If he can do all of that, then that great talent might finally be fully unlocked on the international stage, and the redemption completed.

By Angus Savage

@AngusSavageXV

Do you think Danny Cipriani should be in the England squad, and would you like to see him get another England cap? Let us know via the comment box below or via @FifteenRugbyXV

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