Danny Cipriani back in the spotlight but London Irish coach Brian Smith warns his London Irish side not to let the Sale Sharks fly-half dictate play

Cipriani finds himself on the cusp of an unlikely England return due to a flood of injuries in the Premiership but Smith feels he has more than enough players capable of giving Sale their own problems

Danny Cipriani might reignite his England chances, but Brian Smith has warned London Irish not to let Sale's livewire playmaker control Friday's Aviva Premiership clash.

England's forgotten fly-half has been catapulted back into the international reckoning by a Premiership injury glut that will leave Stuart Lancaster short-handed for the Six Nations.

Former Wasps outside-half Cipriani's England career went off the rails thanks to a complete relationship breakdown with Martin Johnson and a nasty ankle fracture-dislocation.

The last of Cipriani's seven caps came in 2008, since when he has fought back from that injury, toyed with a career switch to football, joined Melbourne Rebels, returned to Sale Sharks and then been hit by a bus on a night out in Leeds.

Former England attack coach Smith knows first-hand both Cipriani's brilliance and fallibility.

Refusing to wade into the England debate, Smith will set up his Irish side to combat Cipriani's tactical kicking at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.

But he said beyond that there will be no special attention, challenging his versatile backs to cause problems for the home fly-half instead.

"We've got some very talented ball players at our club as well," Smith told Press Association Sport.

"Danny is a big talent, there's no doubt about that.

"But we've got some great talent as well in our backline.

"Ian Humphreys, James O'Connor, Shane Geraghty: there's a lot of playing ability and finesse there.

"So he's a good player but we won't be focusing on him as much as focusing on how we impose ourselves on them.

"We certainly need to have our defensive plan together, but we can shut down his options and certainly our backfield will be set up to cover his kicking game.

"But as I say in your preparation, part of it's about looking at opposition threats, but it's also about looking at the opportunities you see in the fixture and making sure you capitalise on those."

World Cup-winning Springboks prop CJ Van der Linde will make his debut for Irish at Sale, with front-rower Eifion Lewis-Roberts primed for his 100th Premiership appearance for the hosts.

Smith is confident scrum cornerstone Van der Linde will help shift general perceptions of the Exiles' pack.

He said: "We've got some artillery there that we've been holding back for the last two weeks, with good reason.

"These next three league games are massive for us, and I think we're a good enough rugby team to win all three.

"But we've definitely got to step up to the plate.

"If we execute the gameplan then we can put in a big performance and get the result."

Third-placed Bath host Harlequins on Saturday, with the men from The Stoop currently sat fourth in the table.

Exeter Chiefs will be hoping to see off Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park, to try to climb higher than sixth, while second-placed Wasps travel to Northampton.

Leaders Saracens host fifth-placed Leicester, before strugglers Gloucester and Worcester slug it out at Kingsholm on Sunday.

PA

 

 

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam