England rugby announced their final 31-man squad for the World Cup that begins in three week's time and there were few surprises but one player in particular, has been unfairly overlooked.
Danny Cipriani, Sale Sharks' star fly-half, is the man who can claim this title after former players and coaches called for his inclusion in the final squad.
The squad, as seen below, shows Cipriani missing out to Saracens fly-half, Owen Farrell, Exeter centre, Henry Slade, and Tigers full-back, Alex Goode.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Article continues below
This shows just one of Cipriani's benefits - his versatility - as he has shown since his return to the England fold over the last 12 months in the world cup warm-ups and RBS Six Nations.
"Danny's come into the game late," is what head coach, Stuart Lancaster, said about the Sale star's situation when questioned about opportunities afforded to the outsider going on to say that in the warm-up games every player with a chance of the number 10 and 15 jersey had the same number of minutes.
Article continues below
“It’s really positive that we have such depth and options to choose from.
"Selection wasn’t easy and it is tough to leave anyone out but it’s important to stress that the players not in this group are still part of our wider squad and could come in at any point."
10 and 15 are specialist positions, and while 'Cips' may have come to the party late, he has shown more ability this year than Farrell, always looking to create chances for his team mates having scored or created a try in every game.
Lancaster further said: "It's tough on Danny, he's a good player. We think he's improved but he's just missed out."
Support from Legends
Always considered to be an outsider and never stood a chance of selection, the 27-year-old has won he doubters over and has had former world cup-winning head coach, Sir Clive Woodward, backing him in his Sky Sports selection calling the decision 'astonishing'.
"Cipriani should be there but he won't be there," said Woodward after England's loss in Paris on Saturday.
"England have just not played him enough and not given him a chance. I am a massive George Ford fan but I am hoping that after the World Cup we are not thinking that maybe it was a couple of years to early for him.
"Ford is a great player but he is a young kid and in Cipriani you have a more experienced player. He just has not had his chance and he won't go."
Cipriani offers something that England lack as a Test match-winner - he can turn a match around with just his own brilliance; a rare-breed. If England are chasing a game or need to overturn a losing deficit - away to Ireland in the Six Nations springs to mind - Lancaster could count on him.
Former England captain, Will Carling, believes likewise that Cipriani has not been afforded the game time showcase his talents - correctly pointing out that 'he's not had a start, he's not had a half; he was given 20 minutes and in that 20 minutes he was outstanding.'
With social media stunned by the decision to cut Cipriani, the Daily Mail's rugby writer, Chris Foy, believes the omission of the 27-year-old is where Lancaster will be judged should England fail in the tournament.
Cipriani has showed he can perform anywhere across the backs outside of his usual fly-half. In the 6 Nations he came on as a centre to score a brilliant try against Italy with superb link-up play with Jonny May.
"Yep, Danny; magical Saturday and where did he play? I will tell you, 10, 12 13, 15, just about anywhere. Impact!" This was Stuart Barnes' opinion of Cipriani in his squad selection.
During the off-season friendlies, most notably against the Barbarians, Cips showed his strength at full-back as he ran the game with a man-of-the-match performance and continued to do in both warm-up games against France.
Even though he scored and flashed creativity, 20-30 minutes is not enough and shows that Lancaster and his staff never intended to select Sale's star player.
“He’s been great,” said backs coach Andy Farrell. “Danny had a gap to close and he’s closed it very well. He’s applied himself very professionally and if you speak to him, he would say he’s a better player for it.”
It's fair to say that Alex Goode, a strong full-back, is a questionable selection after struggling with England recently. If his selection is based on a strong boot, how can a fly-half who has excelled at 15 miss out?
Surely at Centre?
If, as Lancaster says, Cipriani was beaten out at 10 and 15 by specialist players, centre should have been a dead-certainty for his selection.
Sam Burgess, the League-Union crossover, has been selected for his bruising tackles and, as seen against France at Twickenham, smart passing despite his one cap and raw ability to be close in style to Manu Tuilagi as a charger.
Cipriani may not have been able to compete in this sense, even though Burgess is seen as a risk and poor selection, particularly by former captain, Will Carling - but he can absolutely claim to be treated unfairly by the selection of Henry Slade from Exeter.
Slade, like Cipriani, operates as fly-half for Exeter and is versatile with his ability to play as centre but with his inexperience and lack of match-winning ability compared to the 27-year-old could consider himself fortunate.
BBC 5 Live's rugby reporter, Chris Jones, said: "Henry Slade's selection provides a creative alternative to Burgess and Brad Barritt, with the England coaches stressing this week the need for balance across the squad."
That is surely why Cipriani should have been selected as a last-resort position for his link with George Ford and the wingers, May in particular, in the final squad:
Social media's response
The bright side?
Cipriani can take heart from coming so close to selection and the fact that the nation and entire rugby community backs him for not only turning around his career with Sale, but that he is seen one of the best players in world rugby.
Sale will benefit from having their superstar from the start of the season as they push for play-off contention and Cipriani can show selectors what they missed out on while ready to step in should injuries mount up.
There is plenty of time for Cips yet, and he has the maturity and skills to force his way into the first IX but realises it's not about him, it's about the team.
As Cipriani says, lets get behind the team and back the 31. #Carrythemhome
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms