News24

Cipriani aims for England

2011-11-26 22:05

London - Danny Cipriani insisted he still had ambitions to play for England after his first match at Twickenham since 2008 ended in defeat as Australia thrashed the Barbarians 60-11 on Saturday.

It was nearly three years to the day since flyhalf Cipriani, who now plays for Australian Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels, last played at Twickenham when he won his seventh England cap in a 32-6 loss to New Zealand.

The talented but erratic Cipriani was then confined to the international wilderness by then England manager Martin Johnson and played no part in this year's Rugby World Cup.

But with Johnson having resigned last week following England's shambolic performance in New Zealand, the 24-year-old Cipriani made it clear he had not given up on Test rugby.

"I loved it, running out at Twickenham, hearing that roar. It is probably the best stadium in the world in terms of rugby and I have massive ambitions to be back here playing," Cipriani said.

It was a tough day for former Wasps star Cipriani, who found himself on the back foot as Australia ran in eight tries with wings Digby Ioane, Lachie Turner and James Horwill all scoring twice as the Wallabies cashed in on some lacklustre Barbarians defence.

Cipriani's pass close to his own line was intercepted for a try by Wallaby centre Rob Horne, with Radike Samo also crossing for Australia.

But Barbarians coach Graham Henry said it was unfair to judge Cipriani on this match.

"I think he will be disappointed in his game but I think he's got some real qualities and I enjoyed working with during the week," said Henry, fresh from guiding New Zealand to World Cup glory.

"When you haven't got a structure to play with it's bloody difficult, particularly at 10 because you are the guy who has to run the ship.

"And when the ship's struggling and starting to leak and go down, it's hard for the guy who has got the responsibility to run it.

"I don't think you should judge Danny on today's performance. He's going to play Super Rugby shortly, he hasn't played since June. He's got to be judged on a competition where he plays week after week."

The Barbarians managed a try in stoppage time through England rugby league international Sam Tomkins in what was the Wigan fullback's first ever game of rugby union.

"When I came in on Tuesday I was so raw I didn't even know what the numbers for each position were," said Tomkins, whose brother Joel has signed for English Premiership rugby union side Saracens.

"The boys were saying 'we'll play this off the 12 or the 10' and I didn't even know where those blokes were so that was a bit of a challenge.

"There are so many differences between league and union. I understand it a little bit more now.

"Where I am from people don't know what rugby union is and I am glad I have had the chance to play but I am still a rugby league player.

"The try was a good way to finish it off but we didn't manage to get much going," added Tomkins, a member of the England rugby league side that lost last week's Four Nations final to Australia.

Tomkins, 22, recently signed a new three-year contract with Wigan but he could still have a career in union and Henry said: "There's no doubt that Sam's a talented footballer who will be a big success in either rugby code.

"He had never played union before - he didn't know what a ruck was or what a maul was. He has got good balance, he's quick and he's got a good head."

AFP