Rugby

Jones: Cipriani is England's 3rd-choice

2018-10-18 21:35
Eddie Jones (Getty)

Twickenham - Danny Cipriani was labelled England's "third-choice flyhalf" by coach Eddie Jones as he explained why he had left the in-form playmaker out of his squad for the November internationals at Twickenham.

Cipriani has impressed for Gloucester this season, and was named Premiership player of the month for September.

But that was not enough to persuade Jones to include him in a 36-man squad announced on Thursday for next month's home Tests against South Africa, New Zealand, 2019 World Cup hosts Japan and Australia.

Despite being England's starting No 10 in their most recent game against South Africa in June and producing an excellent opening to the season at his new club, Jones left him out of an initial training squad and the Australian stuck with his decision on Thursday.

Instead George Ford and Owen Farrell, who can also play at inside centre, are England's preferred flyhalves.

Farrell has also been named as a co-captain alongside regular skipper Dylan Hartley.

"We've got two good 10s there," Jones told a Twickenham news conference. "It's tough on Danny. He's our third-choice at the moment but George and Owen are our first-two choices."

"I've had discussions with him (Cipriani). He's worked on some areas...but there are areas he (still) needs to work on," added Jones without elaborating on what those areas were.

As for splitting the captaincy, former Australia and Japan coach Jones said: "I think to me it almost became a no-brainer.

"Having watched Dylan captain the side for so many tests and then watching Owen in South Africa, the combination of those two together is just a great fit.

"Whatever team I've coached where we've had success you've always had two at the top and traditionally they've been called a captain and a vice-captain, but I see the role as being co-captains.

"Dylan will handle certain things on the field, Owen will handle certain things, the things that come natural to him, and then off the field we've got a great combination because Dylan's a bit older, Owen's younger."

Jones also said the role of the media in English rugby union had influenced his decision to split the captaincy between Hartley and Farrell.

"In England the job of the captain is probably the biggest job in the world in terms of rugby so they can share that responsibility which will help the players in their own preparation," he explained.

But as for who would lead the side onto the field, Jones joked: "They'll hold hands when they run out."

Injuries and suspensions have deprived England of several players, with a six-week ban given to Nathan Hughes early Thursday ruling out another back-row forward after the likes of Billy Vunipola, Sam Simmonds and Chris Robshaw had all been sidelined.

As a result, No 8 Ben Morgan returned for the first time since the 2015 World Cup.

"We've always spoken at a World Cup about needing to have the depth of three players in each position and immediately in November we are going to be tested in some positions where we are down to fourth or fifth choice," said Jones, appointed after 2015 hosts England's embarrassing first-round exit.

"Obviously Nathan and Billy have been, for the last three years, our front-running No 8s. We've brought Ben Morgan back, who has been playing increasingly well for Gloucester."

In midfield, powerhouse but injury-prone centre Manu Tuilagi was also recalled.

"It's great to have Manu back in the mix," said Jones. "Each game he's played he's got a little bit better he looks a little bit fitter, finding his timing, finding his rhythm and getting his leg-drive back."

England begin a gruelling programme against the revitalised Springboks on November 3.

"South Africa have been going really well. They have a new coach and have selected well," said Jones, whose England side suffered a 2-1 series defeat by Rassie Erasmus's team in July.

"They play a traditional Springbok game up front and move the ball wide when they need to.

"We'll need to take them on up front and when we have opportunities to score points, we have to be good enough to take them."

England squad:

Backs (16): Chris Ashton (Sale), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens, co-captain), George Ford (Leicester), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ben Te'o (Worcester), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards (20): Tom Curry (Sale), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton, co-captain), Alec Hepburn (Exeter), Ted Hill (Worcester), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Zach Mercer (Bath), Ben Moon (Exeter), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Nick Schonert (Worcester), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Elliott Stooke (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath) Harry Williams (Exeter), Mark Wilson (Newcastle)

Fixtures (all at Twickenham, kick-offs 16:00 SA time):

November 3: England v South Africa

November 10: England v New Zealand

November 17: England v Japan

November 24: England v Australia

Read more on:    england  |  danny cipriani  |  eddie jones  |  rugby
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