Martin Johnson, the World Cup-winning captain and former England coach has waded into the Danny Cipriani debate, backing the decision taken by Eddie Jones, the current head coach to leave him out of the provisional training squad for the Autumn International series.
Johnson was known to have a difficult relationship with Cipriani during his time as head coach of the national team and ultimately decided to axe the maverick fly-half from the squad.
As Jones ponders whether to recall Cipriani to the squad for the upcoming Test matches against the All Blacks, South Africa, Japan and Australia, Johnson has offered his view.
"It’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?" he told the Daily Mail. "How do I answer this without making a headline? I’m not seeing a way out... I’d stick with what he’s got.
"Danny has massive ability as a rugby player but it’s everything else that comes with it. He hasn’t been picked by Eddie or Stuart Lancaster before that, so he has some people to convince.
"He had his issue in Jersey which may or may not have been serious, but it’s still something you have to deal with. As a coach, you have to endlessly bat off questions and blah, blah, blah.
"All Danny can do is continue to play and work at it. He’s never been to a tournament so I’m sure he’d love to play in a World Cup."
Jones is planning to attend Sunday’s game at Kingsholm to give Cipriani one last chance to impress.
When naming his provisional squad, he stated that he left out Cipriani for issues related to performance rather than the off-field issues that have dogged his career, most notably the arrest incident in Jersey at the start of the season.
Jones clearly appears to have a preference for Owen Farrell and George Ford at fly-half, despite including Cipriani in the squad in the summer versus South Africa.
Since being dropped, though, Cipriani has since put in several eye-catching performances for Gloucester and was named the player of the month for September.
Sunday’s game is seen as pivotal to Cipriani’s chances of making next year’s World Cup squad. The clamour for his return has been stepped up by many in the game in recent weeks, with former players such as Will Greenwood openly questioning why he is not in the squad.
Failure to make the squad this time for the Autumn Tests would be seen as a hammer blow to his chances of making the plane to Japan next autumn and could possibly signal the end to his already brief England career.
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