Ashton 'did not deserve sack', says Cipriani

Danny Cipriani has claimed Brian Ashton should never have been sacked as England coach. Ashton, 64, was relieved of his duties in April 2008, despite leading the side to a second successive World Cup final the year before. The fly-half, who was handed his first England call-up by Ashton for the Six Nations Championship in 2008, is still puzzled by his exit.

"Brian should never have been sacked," Cipriani said. "He finished second at the World Cup. There are so many young, talented players coming up and he knows every one of them, so it makes logistical sense to have him involved," added the 22-year-old, who is set to move to the Australian side Melbourne Rebels on a two-year deal from Wasps.

And although Cipriani conceded that his move effectively rules him out of international consideration, he is determined to return to the England fold in the future. "In an ideal world I would be playing in the autumn internationals," he said of next month's games with New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa. "That is my dream taken away. I will learn everything I can about the game [with Melbourne] and come back at 24."

Cipriani, who has seven caps for the national side, added: "I'm always going to be available to play for England."

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