Eddie Jones explains Danny Cipriani's omission from England training squad

Duncan Bech 16:53 20/09/2018
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Eddie Jones insists the exclusion of Danny Cipriani from England’s training squad reflects his place in the fly-half pecking order.

Despite being England’s starting playmaker in their most recent game against South Africa and producing an excellent opening to the season at Gloucester, Jones has omitted Cipriani from the 36-man group who will take part in a three-day training camp in Bristol starting on Sunday.

The 30-year-old was convicted of common assault and resisting arrest and fined a total of £4,000 following an incident outside a nightclub that took place during Gloucester’s pre-season tour to Jersey.

But Jones insists it is form and not that indiscretion that has shaped his thinking, with Owen Farrell and George Ford the two fly-halves called up.

“That’s the case, 100 per cent. We’ve decided just to have two stand-offs in the squad for this particular camp because we want them to get a lot of training time,” Jones said.

Manu Tuilagi is back in the England fold for the first time in more than a year.

Manu Tuilagi is back in the England fold for the first time in more than a year.

“At the moment we’ve got Owen and George, who I believe are the first two fly-halves, and then comes Danny.

“Danny’s probably third or fourth choice and he knows what he’s got to work on, which is between Danny and I.

“He’s disappointed but he understands. He’s desperate to play for England, which is terrific.”

Manu Tuilagi makes his first appearance in an England squad in over a year after overcoming a dreadful succession of injuries.

Serious groin and knee problems have prevented the nation’s most destructive threequarter from making an international start since 2014, his last appearance coming as a replacement against Wales two years ago.

The 27-year-old has started all three of Leicester’s games this season and capped a fine performance against Newcastle with a try.

“It’s the first time in the three years I’ve been in England that Manu’s been fit,” Jones said.

“He’s put together a series of games and we’re looking forward to him continuing on that run. He’s got the opportunity to come in and show us what he’s got.”

Included despite being midway through a seven-week ban for a tip tackle made during Sale’s pre-season victory at Castres is wing Chris Ashton.

Chris Ashton is selected despite being midway through a seven-week ban.

Chris Ashton is selected despite being midway through a seven-week ban.

Ashton has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Sharks following his summer recruitment from Toulon, but Jones will take a look at the rugby league convert before naming his squad for the autumn series on October 18.

“It’s a judgement. Selection is a judgement, and my judgement is that Ashton’s going to be important for us in November,” Jones said.

“We’ve kept close checks on what he’s doing training-wise, Sale have been very good in working with us on him and we believe that he could be potentially available for selection.”

Bath giant Joe Cokanasiga offers another wing option and scrum-half Danny Care is back, but there is no place for veteran forwards Dan Cole and James Haskell, while emerging back rows Sam Underhill and Sam Simmonds are overlooked.

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Danny Cipriani omitted from first England training squad since assault conviction

Sport360 staff 12:50 20/09/2018
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Danny Cipriani has been omitted from England’s squad for their three-day training camp in Bristol which begins on Sunday.

Cipriani was convicted of common assault and resisting arrest and fined a total of £4,000 following an incident outside a nightclub that took place during Gloucester’s pre-season tour to Jersey in August.

Despite being England’s starting fly-half in their most recent game against South Africa – this call-up ended a three-year exile from selection – in June and producing an excellent opening to the season at his new club, Eddie Jones has left him out of the 36-man squad.

England are set to play South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia in the November internationals.

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Strap in for another fatal four-way as West Asia Premiership returns

Matt Jones - Editor 20:29 19/09/2018
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Jebel Ali Dragons are the team to beat in 2018/19.

After a summer occupied by recruitment, rumour and the revelation that former Wales and British & Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips is now a coach here, finally the 2018/19 UAE rugby season is imminent.

And if the previous campaign is anything to go by, we’re set for another fascinating installment of the West Asia Premiership.

The landscape of Gulf rugby was completely changed by the fierce nature of the competition from last year between a new, established elite of Jebel Ali Dragons, Bahrain, Dubai Exiles and Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

It feels like the spark of what was a powderkeg of epic action in 2017/18 has only just gone out – Quins’ utter dominance of two years ago replaced by a symphony of unbridled entertainment and complete uncertainty as to who would win what.

The West Asia Premiership went down to the final game of the season, while Exiles recovered from three straight, early destabilising defeats to their three rivals to enter a four-horse title race.

They actually came out on top overall with two major trophies lifted, the Dubai Sevens and UAE Premiership, while Bahrain won the Asia Cup, a first piece of silverware in eight years.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach Mike McFarlane will hope to keep Quins competitive.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach Mike McFarlane will hope to keep Quins competitive.

We should prepare ourselves for the same again this time around, with the usual suspects remaining in the frame – even if there are some doubts as to whether Quins can maintain an all-out assault on all trophies with the continuing difficulties they encounter both on and off the field.

If any club is set up to deal with adversity, however, it is them, led by the stoic Mike McFarlane. Adversity was faced head on when talismanic captain Ben Bolger was forced into retirement on the eve of last season because of repeated concussions.

Three core players of the quality of Brian Geraghty, Willie Umu and Patrick Jenkinson would be missed by anyone and enough to see other teams totally combust. Yet Quins, realistically, should have been crowned Premiership champions.

Only a Herculean performance from Dragons on the final day in Bahrain – a bonus point win claimed in the most arduous of circumstances – denied them.

By the time they faced rejuvenated Exiles in the UAE Premiership final, they resembled a heavyweight boxer out on their feet. They had given their all and had nothing left.

Dragons’ heavy recruitment and the stardust signing of Phillips as coach makes them favourites to retain their crown, while Bahrain and Exiles have retained the core of their squads while adding or welcoming back quality.

Scrum-half Ed Armirtage’s return to Exiles from the UK and UAE winger Charlie Sargent’s from injury cannot be overstated.

The biggest question mark is hovering over Quins, but their resolve and the sheer will of McFarlane might well keep them in the picture.

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