Danny Cipriani (Gallo)
London - England's decision to play centre
Sam Burgess in the Rugby World Cup Pool A showdown against Wales is not a
gamble in any way, flyhalf Danny Cipriani said on Friday.
The selection of Burgess and Owen Farrell
at flyhalf instead of the more creative George Ford prompted claims from
eminent former players that coach Stuart Lancaster was panicking but Cipriani
was having none of that.
"Starting Sam Burgess and Owen Farrell
gives England a hard-nosed edge," he said.
"Burgess is a champion. It might be in
a different sport, but that charisma and mentality can easily translate into
other competition. It's the attitude and DNA of a champion that is unique and
Burgess has it."
Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings was
among those who criticised Lancaster to pick former rugby league player Burgess
who has less than two hours experience of international rugby union.
"Gavin Hastings has said the changes
England have made ahead of the clash with Wales shows England are panicking but
as a fellow from a rival nation, he's playing a smart little game," said
Cipriani, who missed out on England's final squad.
"Is that what he truly believes?
England aren't panicking in any way, shape or form. This is what England were
probably thinking about from a while ago.
"They know Wales bring a physical
in-your-face defence, and now the Welsh might have to re-think how to defend
against the English. Stuart Lancaster is very particular and very methodical.
He doesn't make rash decisions."
Burgess will come up against highly
experienced Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts on Saturday.
"Sometimes the new young gun coming
into a team is going to provide more energy and more aggression than somebody
who has 70 caps," Cipriani said.
"But this is different, because of
Burgess's lack of union experience. Wales may try and exploit this, but it
could also be one of Sam's strengths.
"He's a smart lad, and if you run in
his vicinity you are going to get hit. And hit hard. It's the kind of contact
Jamie Roberts is probably not used to, so it's going to be an intriguing battle
between the two of them."
Cipriani, an ambassador for Paddy Power,
said Farrell would relish the atmosphere.
"Owen Farrell fronts up in the big
games and although people claim he hasn't the same skill set as George Ford,
he's done some tricky little things in training and he works extremely
hard," he said.
"He is a tough guy who lives for the
big occasion so he'll thrive against Wales."