SALE fly-half Danny Cipriani is expected to be the highest-profile casualty when England head coach Stuart Lancaster confirms his final squad for next month’s Rugby World Cup today.
The versatile 27-year-old is set to miss out on the home tournament, with Lancaster tipped to pick George Ford and Owen Farrell as fly-halves and Mike Brown and Alex Goode as full-backs, despite Cipriani’s dazzling cameo off the bench in last week’s defeat by France in Paris.
Rugby league convert Sam Burgess is in line to be selected as one of four centres, even though his Test experience since switching codes amounts to a solitary appearance this month in the first of two warm-up matches against Les Bleus.
That leaves Luther Burrell and Henry Slade vying for the remaining spot, with Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt virtual certainties. Slade is thought to be more likely to make Lancaster’s 31-man party, which is due to be announced at 1.45pm.
Questions remain over whether England will pick Ben Morgan, who has played just half a match since January due to injury, or veteran Nick Easter at No8. Lancaster has also faced a quandary in the front and second rows, where Alex Corbisiero and George Kruis are the favourites to suffer heartbreak on the eve of the tournament.
Cipriani, who has earned just 14 caps in a chequered career blighted by off-field controversy, scored a try and inspired a late rally as England lost 25-20 in Paris on Saturday.
England play Ireland a week on Saturday in their final game before the World Cup, which begins on 18 September when they host Fiji.