Danny Cipriani: outside-half or full-back? The debate over the celebrity playmaker's best position is likely to ramble on well into the new year, especially with Tony Hanks, the man running the show at Wasps, continuing to hedge his bets. Having started last weekend's derby with Harlequins in the No 10 role, Cipriani will wear the No 15 shirt against Newcastle at Adams Park on Sunday. The poor lad must wonder whether he is coming or going.
Hanks, who faces some awkward contractual negotiations with English rugby's version of Gavin Henson over the next month or so, says he likes the idea of playing both Cipriani and David Walder, a highly effective outside-half in his own right, in the same combination. "Moving Danny to full-back gives him an opportunity to show his versatility," the director of rugby remarked yesterday. Quite how badly Cipriani wants to be seen as versatile after almost two years of injury and career drift is open to question.
John Hart, so reliable that he never drifts anywhere, will lead the side in the absence of the injured Serge Betsen. The 23-year-old Will Matthews fills in for the revered French flanker while Hanks' new front-row signing from Samoa, the loose-head prop Sakaria Taulafo, will sit on the bench.
Kingsley Jones, the Sale coach who opted for what might be called a "Mick McCarthy selection" in sparing several of his best players the thankless task at Leicester last weekend, has recalled Mark Cueto, Mathew Tait and Dwayne Peel for this evening's Premiership meeting with Harlequins at a wintry Edgeley Park, where volunteers have been working on the playing surface for the last couple of days.
For their part, the Londoners have made half-a-dozen changes to the side that lost to Wasps by a point in front of 76,000 spectators at Twickenham five days ago. Aston Croall, Matt Cairns and John Andress take over the front-row duties, James Percival returns to the engine room and there are places for George Lowe and Tom "bite on this capsule when we tell you" Williams in the back line.
In Wales, today's big Magners League game between Ospreys and Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium has been devalued by the visitors' chronic selection problems. The flanker Martyn Williams and the centre Jamie Roberts will miss the game because of knocks suffered during last weekend's victory over Newport Gwent Dragons, while Andy Powell is out of circulation due to family reasons.Reuse content