Cipriani to take French leave?

2015-01-21 09:01
James Haskell (File)

London - James Haskell has said Danny Cipriani should seize a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to play club rugby in France next season if he is excluded from England's Six Nations squad.

Six years passed between Cipriani winning his first seven caps and making the two most recent of his nine Test appearances, in New Zealand in June.

Often labelled a wayward talent, whose sometimes high profile private life has not gone down well with successive England managements, fly-half Cipriani has been in fine form for Premiership side Sale this season.

Nevertheless, Cipriani is set to miss out when England coach Stuart Lancaster names his Six Nations squad on Wednesday, with George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler in line to be chosen ahead of him.

Cipriani has been tipped to be selected for England's second-string Saxons squad.

That would not necessarily rule him out of being picked to represent hosts England at this year's World Cup on home soil, which starts in September, but it may prompt Cipriani to seek pastures new, with French and European champions Toulon reportedly interested in signing the 27-year-old on a lucrative deal.

"I think the problem is you can be hanging on your entire life," former Stade Francais flanker Haskell, who played in the same Wasps side as Cipriani, said Tuesday.

"Sometimes your face doesn't fit, or there's too much competition around, and you need to make the right decision to suit yourself and suit your game," added Haskell, now back with Wasps after a globetrotting career that has included spells in New Zealand and Japan as well.

"Danny's unlucky because there are some very good 10s about, I think he has been unlucky not to be involved as much and it must be frustrating for him -- because he would get into most teams or most squads, but England are blessed with some good backs.

"I've no doubt that if he keeps sticking with it he will keep knocking at that door because a couple of injuries and he's right in the mix."

Haskell added: "I don't regret one minute going to France, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

"If I thought it would have affected my England chances, because the rules were different then, then I probably wouldn't go.

"If I was on the fringe of the squad looking to play rugby and I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go and play in France, you've got to go and play in France, haven't you?"

Recent years have seen England stick rigidly to a policy of not selecting players based at foreign clubs save only in "exceptional circumstances".

An upcoming World Cup at home has not yet been classed as "exceptional" by the England management which means Toulon back-row Steffon Armitage's Test exile is likely to continue when the Six Nations squad is announced.

England will be looking for back-row cover after Ben Morgan was ruled out with a broken leg but Haskell said: "I think there is enough cover in the squad to cope with the injuries.

"Steffon Armitage is interesting because everyone chats about him, but he's contracted abroad and knows the rules.

England have injury concerns over several players with centre Manu Tuilagi struggling with a groin injury.

Up front, lock Courtney Lawes (ankle) is set to miss the first few weeks of the Six Nations and fellow second row Joe Launchbury has been ruled completely with a neck problem.

Read more on:    james haskell  |  rugby


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