Eddie Jones fires a warning to recalled England fly-half Danny Cipriani

Duncan Bech 11/05/2018
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Back in the fold: Danny Cipriani.

Danny Cipriani has been warned by Eddie Jones that he will be placed on a flight back home if he misbehaves during England‘s tour to South Africa.

Cipriani makes his first appearance in a senior squad under Jones on the strength of his sparkling form for Wasps – a decade after the last start in an international career of unrealised potential.

The 30-year-old, who is being considered at fly-half and full-back for the three-Test series against the Springboks beginning on June 9, was previously overlooked due to misgivings over his attitude.

Several incidents have blotted his copybook, among them a training ground fracas with Mike Catt and a ban for drink driving, but Jones believes his form means he can no longer be ignored.

Should he transgress again, however, he will be forced to return from South Africa alone.

“I haven’t discussed Danny’s temperament with him. I’ve been looking at it purely from a rugby point of view, what he can add and what he can do,” Jones said.

“I’m convinced there is something he can offer because he’s made changes to his game and his character will come through.

“If he’s a good character he could be in the team for a long time. If he’s a bad character, there’s always a plane back from Johannesburg.”

Eddie Jones feels Cpriani's Wasps form warrants an international recall.

Eddie Jones feels Cpriani’s Wasps form warrants an international recall.

Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster are previous England coaches who viewed Cipriani’s antics as too high a price to pay for his obvious talent, while at club level his career has been nomadic.

“The baggage doesn’t worry me, it’s how he behaves in front of me. I can’t control what he’s done in the past. All I can do is control what he does in the future,” Jones said.

“We need to give him that flexibility to display his talent. He’s definitely got a creative talent and we don’t want to annul that, but he has to understand there’s a team and he has to play within that team. It’ll be exciting to see how he goes.”

More controversial than Cipriani’s return is the decision to pick flanker Brad Shields – one of eight uncapped players in the 34-man squad – despite the Hurricanes captain being midway through the Super Rugby season.

The 27-year-old was born and raised in New Zealand but has never been capped by the All Blacks and qualifies for England through his parents. Shields’ inclusion has been criticised by New Zealand Rugby, who nevertheless revealed they will not stand in his path.

“(New Zealand coach) Steve Hansen is old enough and wise enough to know who he wants to pick and I’m old enough and wise enough to know who I want to pick. And I think Shields will add to the team,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, back row James Haskell is among the players who have been rested.

The task of leading England in South Africa falls to Owen Farrell in the absence of the concussed Dylan Hartley.

“In English rugby in particular, the key for the captain is to get unity and to get people to work together because the sporting environment here is based around selfishness. It is about the individual game,” Jones said.

“During the Six Nations we got complacent about unity, without a doubt, and that’s again my responsibility.”

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James Ryan versus Leone Nakarawa and other key battles that could decide Leinster v Racing

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Leinster face French side Racing 92 in the final of the Champions Cup in Bilbao on Saturday, with the Irish outfit bidding to win their fourth European title, and their first since 2012.

With so much at stake, we take a look at three key battles which could decide the outcome.

James Ryan v Leone Nakarawa

The Leinster lock has emerged as one of the rising stars of the game – and is yet to lose a professional game in 20 outings for club and country.

His voracious work makes him one of the central figures in the Leinster pack, coupled with his ability to pass and make breaks, which is a testament to the 15 man game Leinster are implementing.

Nakarawa meanwhile remains an instrumental presence for Racing with his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork all serious threats.

The line-out may be his key strength, but away from that he puts in a serious shift to get on the ball and put teammates in formidable attacking positions.

In defence, he can tackle solidly, win his own ball and show serious willingness at the breakdown.

Some locks offer a line-out threat and possess solid enough workrate, but Nakarawa (6’6) and Ryan (6’8) carry themselves around the field like a pair of six-litre V12s.

The Fijian international may have the experience, but the Irishman has shown before that he is up for any challenge no matter how big the task is.

Garry Ringrose v Virimi Vakatawa

Robbie Henshaw may be the chief lieutenant in the Leinster midfield, but Ringrose is equally as effective with ball in hand and in defence.

The 24-year-old tends to play first receiver to Johnny Sexton, and provides a fresh cutting edge to Ireland’s attack. His slick feet also allows him to evade would-be tacklers and gain extra yardage in a bid to unlock the speed out wide.

In Vakatawa, Racing possess a similar figure, with solid footwork, speed and power, but devoid of the same play-making style of Ringrose.

The French international was totemic in the semi-final win over Munster and – aside from Thomas – remains Racing’s greatest attacking threat.

Whoever can gain a foothold in this battle will have the upperhand in unlocking the opposition defence and initiating attacking opportunities.

Isa Nacewa v Teddy Thomas

The Frenchman may possess the pace and finishing ability to put Racing in command of any contest, but Nacewa is one of the best players to don the Leinster shirt.

If the Fiji man does 100 things in a row, it seems to be with perfect execution. He has that ability to dance and always give the ball to someone in a better position, instead of taking it into contact.

At 35 and captain of this star-studded team, he purrs with dominance and will be looking to go out on a high in his final season in Leinster colours.

Thomas – with two tries in the semi-final win over Munster – will be central to how Racing perform and if Nacewa can starve him of position and metres, then expect Racing to struggle to put scores on the board.

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Danny Cipriani named in England squad for the first time in three years

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Danny Cipriani has been rewarded for his outstanding form for Wasps by being picked in England’s squad for their summer tour to South Africa.

Cipriani made his last international appearance during the build-up to the 2015 World Cup and has since been repeatedly overlooked by Eddie Jones, who had misgivings over his attitude in a team environment.

But the 30-year-old now has a chance of being involved against the Springboks over three Tests next month, a decade after making his last international start.

Wasps-bound Hurricanes captain Brad Shields is one of seven uncapped players selected by Jones despite being midway through the Super Rugby season.

Dylan Hartley misses the tour because of concussion so Owen Farrell is named captain while Danny Care, Dan Cole, James Haskell and Richard Wigglesworth have been rested.

However, Jones has opted against resting any of his British and Irish Lions with Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola among those included, while Billy Vunipola is present following his recovery from a broken arm.

“Our tour to South Africa will be the most exciting challenge for us as a group since 2016,” Jones said.

“We have an opportunity to create some history next month and win the Test series, something no England side has done before.

“There are a number of players out injured or not selected so it provides a big opportunity for others.

“With three weeks to prepare for the first Test in Johannesburg I am expecting players to come into camp with the right mind-set.

“We will be looking for them to break the mould in terms of being more assertive and on the front foot in everything we do.

“We will need to be physically aggressive and tactically smart against the Springboks who we know will be combative and reinvigorated by their new coaching set-up.”

Jones, who also announced that Scott Wisemantel will join up with the squad for the tour as an attack consultant, said Cipriani had earned his recall.

“I’ve picked him for the first time,” he said. “I’ve watched him closely and he’s looking good. He deserves his opportunity.

“He’s done a few things I’ve asked him to do.”

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