Rugby

Cipriani to tour with England

2014-05-26 14:13
Danny Cipriani (AFP)

London - Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani has received his first England call-up in six years when coach Stuart Lancaster named his initial 30-man squad on Monday for next month's three-Test tour of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Worcester full-back Chris Pennell, the son of the late England cricketer Graham Dilley, was one of seven uncapped players selected by Lancaster.

Gloucester centre Henry Trinder, Leicester lock Ed Slater and the front-row quartet of Kieran Brookes, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Gray and Dave Ward complete the uncapped group.

An additional group of players for the tour will be announced following the Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton at Twickenham on Saturday.

The much-criticised timing of that fixture means players from those clubs will be unavailable for the first Test against the world champion All Blacks in Auckland on June 7 as they will have insufficient time to recover for the series opener.

Cipriani, once the golden boy of English rugby, won the last of his seven caps in 2008 but has been included in the back of a fine season at Sale, where he helped the north-west side to a sixth-placed finish in the Premiership.

Sarecens' Owen Farrell is England's current fly-half. Already ruled out of the first Test because of the Premiership final, doubts about his availability for the rest of the tour were raised when he damaged an ankle tripping over TV wires while warming up for the London club's European Cup final defeat by Toulon in Cardiff on Saturday.

And George Ford, Farrell's England deputy, has also been sidelined as he is due to undergo shoulder surgery following Bath's 30-16 European Challenge Cup final defeat by Northampton at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

Meanwhile Saracens and England prop Mako Vunipola left the Millennium Stadium on crutches following star-studded French side Toulon's 23-6 victory.

Lancaster is also sweating on the fitness of first-choice hooker Dylan Hartley, with the New Zealand-born forward struggling to be fit following a shoulder problem for the Premiership final.

Wasps back-row James Haskell has also been included for the first time since the 2013 Six Nations.
- 'Well and truly ready for first Test' -

"We are excited about the squad we are taking to New Zealand and, while there continues to be challenges in selection, we will be well and truly ready for the first Test," said Lancaster.

"It has been a good few days' training and great to be able to work with a larger group of players in the lead up to the Barbarians game and the tour.

"As is often the case there are some players unavailable through injury and it is a shame that recently both George Ford (Bath Rugby) and Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers) have had to withdraw due to shoulder and knee injuries sustained towards the end of the season."

Even with a full squad, England faced a daunting task in trying to add to a total of just two wins in 12 Tests in New Zealand, their rare successes coming in 1973 and their World Cup-winning year of 2003.

"I think it's ridiculous," Northampton and England flanker Tom Wood has said of the fixture clash.

"You should be doing the best you can for your club and playing yourself into contention for your country. The two should never be in conflict."

England's last two trips to New Zealand borh created unsavoury headlines, with several England players caught up in a sex scandal in 2008.

And three years later a poor World Cup on the field was compounded by pictures of an alcohol-fuelled night out involving dwarf-tossing games in a Queenstown bar while, following the team's quarter-final exit, Manu Tuilagi was sanctioned after diving off a ferry into an Auckland harbour.

But England, the hosts of next year's World Cup, have competed strongly against New Zealand in their two most recent Tests with the All Blacks.

They beat the world champions 38-21 at Twickenham in 2012 before pushing them hard in a 30-22 loss at 'headquarters' a year later.

Prior to the tour, an England XV will play the invitational Barbarians in a non-cap international at Twickenham on Sunday.

Squad:

Forwards: Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Kieran Brookes, Henry Thomas, David Wilson, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Gray, Dave Ward, Rob Webber, Dave Attwood, Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, Ed Slater, James Haskell, Tom Johnson, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw.

Backs: Danny Care, Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns, Danny Cipriani, Kyle Eastmond, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees, Mike Brown, Jonny May, Chris Pennell, Marland Yarde.


Read more on:    england  |  danny cipriani  |  rugby
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