FLY-HALF Danny Cipriani has refused to relinquish his World Cup dream despite facing fierce competition for the No10 jersey within England head coach Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup training squad.
Cipriani is competing with two formidable opponents in the shape of George Ford and Owen Farrell for a starting berth, but racked up 33 points in his latest audition as an England XV thrashed the Barbarians 73-12 at Twickenham yesterday.
The 27-year-old crossed the line twice during England’s 10-try rout and was inch perfect from the tee after landing all of his 11 kicks, and Cipriani acknowledged that he cannot afford to let opportunities to impress slip from his grasp.
“I’ve got to make sure I put my hand up every time I get a chance,” he said. “We played our England way, we played our structure, we didn’t let the game get too loose and on defence we hunted them down and got the ball back which is exactly how we wanted to play.”
Lancaster included 10 players from his 50-man training squad in England’s line-up, and Harlequins wing Marland Yarde, Leicester second row Ed Slater and Exeter’s Henry Slade, who played at inside centre, joined Cipriani on the scoresheet.
Wasps wing Christian Wade was omitted from Lancaster’s World Cup plans but provided a timely reminder of his credentials with a hat-trick, while Harlequins back-row forward Jack Clifford and Sale’s Josh Beaumont also touched down.
Lancaster praised the contribution of Cipriani, who slotted in at full-back during the second period, and hinted that a player’s versatility may prove crucial when thoughts turn to trimming his World Cup squad to 31 at the end of August.
“He played a lot at full-back four or five years ago and it’s certainly something we’d consider further down the line when we consider the 31,” said Lancaster.
“It’s a pretty competitive position at fly-half, as it is at full-back so it is good to have the versatility.”