Cipriani set for chance to impress

Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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Stuart Lancaster will hedge his bets on Danny Cipriani’s Test future by naming the Sale fly-half in his extended Six Nations training squad.

Cipriani will be confirmed in England’s wider squad on Wednesday to prepare for the Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on February 6, along with Harlequins’ 36-year-old back-rower Nick Easter.

Cipriani could still, however, officially remain in England’s second-string Saxons squad, with George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler the senior playmakers.

Easter will earn a first squad call under head coach Lancaster, and has not featured for England since the 2011 World Cup.

Bath’s rugby league convert Sam Burgess will be named in the Saxons squad as he continues his quest for a place at this year’s World Cup.

Lancaster could promote a number of Saxons stars into his Six Nations training squad, but crucially choose not to add them to his senior elite player squad (EPS).

The England head coach adopted the same tactic last season, in a bid to counter a lengthy injury list and keep his options open for as long as possible.

Though Cipriani comes into the senior training squad, the 27-year-old could yet feature in the Saxons’ one-off clash against Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork on January 30.

Cipriani has been mulling over a move to French and European champions Toulon this summer at the end of his current contract with Sale.

Sale boss Steve Diamond has previously admitted fears the nine-cap fly-half will leave for France if overlooked once more for England action.

Cipriani remains fourth in England’s pecking order, but now has the chance he has craved to prove himself a tangible World Cup option in upcoming training sessions.

Lancaster would prefer Cipriani to remain in the Aviva Premiership, with England still adhering to the policy of not selecting overseas-based stars save for “exceptional circumstances”.

The former Wasps fly-half could still view being fourth in England’s pecking order as enough motivation to seek a new challenge in France next season.

Easter will slot into the extended training squad to offset the loss of Gloucester number eight Ben Morgan, who has suffered a broken leg.

Morgan ended the autumn Test series England’s form loose forward, but will be replaced in England’s starting line-up by Saracens’ Billy Vunipola.

Talisman centre Manu Tuilagi could miss the entire tournament as his recovery from nagging groin trouble continues to lag.

Northampton lock Courtney Lawes is also out of the running for the first two rounds with an ankle injury.

Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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