Sale Sharks’ Danny Cipriani is refusing to give up on his dream of international rugby and insists he’s still very much gunning for the England No.10 jersey.
Axed from Stuart Lancaster’s final 31-man squad for the World Cup last month in favour of Bath’s George Ford and Saracen Owen Farrell – Cipriani was a frustrated spectator.
The recriminations have certainly started for Lancaster since losing in consecutive weeks to Wales and Australia and becoming the first host nation in tournament history to fail to reach the knockout stages.
England’s coaching-staff has been hammered in recent days for bizarre team-building exercises in the build up to the tournament and inconsistent team selection.
But Cipriani, who has 14 international caps to his name, refused to put the boot the boot into Lancaster and his England fly-half rivals; instead opting to highlight the current strength of the domestic game.
“I am always going to put my hand up to play for England,” said Cipriani, speaking at a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup event hosted by Sale Sharks at Manchester Rugby Club.
“I think you look at someone like Nick Easter and he is an inspiration. He’s 37 – though I think he has lied about his age and he’s about 42 – but he’s in great shape physically and he’s a passionate man and knows the game inside out.
“So the more rugby I play the more I understand the game and hopefully I will be become a better player in the years to come.
“Everyone is now just going to have to go back to their clubs and play and perform well because the coaching setup has to pick players for the Six Nations.
“People are going to want to put their hands up and get into the squad whether they are in the 31 or in the 50 or outside the 50.
“Players like Christian Wade didn’t even make the initial squad and he will be hungry to make that team now.
“I think English rugby is in a great place and we are in a great position and if we get things right moving forward then I think we will be a powerful team.
“I am always motivated to play for England and I think every time I have had the chance to put a white shirt on I have done everything to the best of my ability.
“I will continue to do that and so I am looking forward to playing for Sale this year and make progress and see where it goes.”
For the time being it’s all about starting the new season in fine form for Cipriani as he looks to sparkle in a Sale Sharks jersey.
Brilliant at times for the Manchester club last season, inconsistency held Sale back from finishing in the Aviva Premiership’s top-four.
And after a lengthy pre-season, which included altitude training with England in Denver and started more than three months ago, Cipriani is raring to go as they travel to Saracens on Saturday.
“It was the worst pre-season because it’s been the longest pre-season ever I think so I’m really excited for the season and to be back playing in a game that means something,” added Cipriani.
“I can’t wait, it’s been good to get back with Sale and working with the coaches and things have been progressing nicely.
“I think we are in a good position this year and there are a lot of new things in the team and we have a lot of energy.
“I have never seen Steve Diamond so inspired and ready for a season so I am looking forward to it.
“I don’t think we necessarily struggle on the road I think it’s about getting the right performance and the right direction.
I think as a team we know exactly what we are doing now and we have got a great structure so we need to make sure we realise how good we can be.
“There’s always a chance of top four and I think that is definitely something that we are trying to do and to get this club into that region.
“We have over performed in these last few years with the resources that we have had but we have made some quality signings in the off season so we are looking forward to having that chance to get into the top six or four.”
Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and a partner of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade. Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign aims to champion grassroots rugby on the global stage during Rugby World Cup 2015. Follow @Land RoverRugby #WeDealInReal
Image courtesy of Emirates via YouTube, with thanks.