Cipriani eyes Six Nations

2011-11-22 09:21
Danny Cipriani (File)
London -  Flamboyant Melbourne Rebels playmaker Danny Cipriani could miss the opening month of the Super rugby season if he earns a call-up for next year's Six Nations.

The headline-generating Englishman has a clause in his contract allowing him to be released for national duties with the Six Nations running from February 4 to March 17.

Cipriani had been at long odds to be selected for England while plying his trade in Australia during Martin Johnson's reign.

However last week's resignation of the 2003 World Cup winning captain and uncertainty surrounding England's next manager has provided the 24-year-old Cipriani with hope of a recall.

The mercurial No 10 has a priceless opportunity to enhance his case on home soil in the Barbarians' clash against the Wallabies on Saturday at Twickenham.

When Cipriani left England to play for the Rebels in their inaugural season, he effectively surrendered his chances of playing at this year's Rugby World Cup.

Under Johnson, English players turning out overseas were only to be selected in "exceptional circumstances".

"I have a long term goal in 2015 to be in that squad (for the World Cup), to be first choice 10 and to be back here in the short term and obviously play well this season," Cipriani said.

"Hopefully to be that exceptional case."

Cipriani is a major drawcard in Britain, having provided great fodder for the British press with his colourful career since making his international debut in 2008.

His partying ways and high-profile romances have often led him into trouble in both the United Kingdom and more recently in Melbourne.

However with question marks over England's premier playmakers Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood following England's quarter-final exit at the World Cup, the gifted Cipriani could quickly return to favour.

With more than a dozen British journalists hanging off his every word at a Park Lane hotel on Monday, he said he had matured following a series of off-field incidents at the Rebels that marred his opening year in Melbourne.

"Touch wood I don't make any more mistakes," he said.

One of the major flaws in Cipriani's game has been his tackling.

He felt he had ironed out some of the kinks in his defensive game with former Wallabies defensive coach John Muggleton at the Rebels.

"I am making sure I get myself in the right positions and getting my footwork right," Cipriani said.

However Rebels captain Stirling Mortlock, who will play alongside Cipriani for the Barbarians on Saturday, cautioned about his team-mate's progress.

"I am impressed with the path that he is on but there is still a lot that needs to be done," he said.

Sonny Bill Williams has withdrawn from the Barbarians squad because of a hamstring injury.

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