England’s Danny Cipriani ‘trust’ issues

Danny Cipriani
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Eddie Jones announced his latest 36 man training squad without England’s most talked-about player. The Danny Cipriani ‘trust’ issues have returned with a fervour after a summer of promise and optimism.

“At this stage Danny is not in the top two stand-offs” (BBC Sport)

That’s simply not true. Cipriani’s form for Gloucester this season has been exemplary. Earning plaudits from all corners, it seems, is actually a hindrance to England selection. Just ask Don Armand.

Danny Cipriani – Past Performances Mean Nothing

The last person to line-up in the Number 10 jersey for England was actually Danny Cipriani during the arduous tour of South Africa. However, under Jones’ rule, being the current custodian of the shirt does not guarantee you of a fair opportunity to keep it.

England went into that final test match against South Africa on the back of five consecutive losses. Eddie Jones’ reputation was on the line. In desperation, the Australian cast aside his mainstay, George Ford, and threw in a rejuvenated Danny Cipriani for this must-win test match in Cape Town. He duly delivered. In conditions reminiscent of an English winter, Cipriani was poised, accurate and demonstrated his wider skill set in a 25-10 victory.

How much credit in the bank did he receive? None.

Jones’ inherent Cipriani trust issues are too strong to overcome with strong performances alone. At the next opportunity to repay that performance, Jones has decided to exile him… again.

The Autumn Ahead

Is the latest get-together, just a training squad? Given the lack of training available due to Premiership commitments, it is only an opportunity for the team to bond and form partnerships. More importantly is the build up of the tactics and plans for next year’s Rugby World Cup. What a huge missed opportunity then for Cipriani to familiarise and also contribute. What is even more baffling is the lack of depth in this squad at the 10 / 12 position if Farrell plays at 12 next month.

Jones promises that Cipriani omission is for rugby reasons and not off-field issues during the summer. Cipriani was fined by club and the magistrates in August after pleading guilty to common assault and resisting arrest during Gloucester’s pre-season tour to Jersey.

This seems at odds with the majority of the rugby-watching public. An omission for his latest misdemeanor would have been acceptable to most. Claiming Cipriani is the “3rd or 4th choice No 10” is bewildering.

More Ford, Farrell rather than Cipriani ‘trust’ issues alone

Including Cipriani in the England fold during the summer was now clearly a tactic by Eddie to jolt current incumbent Ford into form. The better Cipriani plays, the more pressure is heaped on Ford. How well the Tigers fly-half has responded is open to debate. There have been flashes of brilliance for Leicester but nothing groundbreaking.

It is doubtful that Jones ever wanted to use Cipriani in South Africa and was simply biding his time to be able to quash the media surge to pick him. The England management are reluctant to upset their key-man Owen Farrell who plays his own way. Cipriani has his own style and the consensus is they don’t match.

Ford is a longtime friend of Farrell and is far more complicit in adapting his own game to suit that of the current England captain.

Centre of the Issue

A key criticism of England’s recent attacking play is the lack of dynamism and power at the contact area. The looming arrival of Manu Tuilagi in the England squad is something England have craved for years. This would allow Farrell to move to 10 and use a playmaker in the 13 channel.

The fitness of Tuilagi is a long-running issue – ironically injured again after Jones announced his squad. England with Tuilagi need to completely re-shape their backline in time for the World Cup with a new style of play. The clock is rapidly ticking for Tuilagi to be England’s key man.

Eddie comments on Danny Cipriani in media

The biggest issue England fans have with Jones is the lack of credibility in what he says to the media. In front of a microphone, no-one believes the words coming from his mouth. Particularly the football manager-esque mind games and catch-phrases.

Fans genuinely want to hear from England’s management, with honesty and clarity about squad selection. Not the constant stream of half truths and mis-direction which he seems to thrive off.

Danny Cipriani fans cling to the theory that this is all a tantalising master gameplan to leave him out until the World Cup squad is announced; thereby avoiding the media harassment and extra column inches that come from his off-field interest.

“I think he has done some great things, as has been well reported, but there are areas of his game he needs to work on, and he understands that” (BBC Sport)

Hopefully he does because fans of the Gallagher Premiership don’t.

Jones cannot afford a poor showing in the Autumn series ahead of a huge 2019. Can he overcome his Cipriani Trust Issues?

History is telling us, no, so a significant step in the right direction for Jones is some fan engagement with honesty and integrity.

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