Cipriani out to reclaim his shirt

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The Independent Online

Danny Cipriani has warned Andy Goode he wants the England number 10 jersey back as early as next week's RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales.

The Wasps fly-half is struggling to rediscover the electric form he showed last season and has been dropped for England's opening game against Italy at Twickenham on Saturday.

Cipriani, who will play for the Saxons against Ireland A tomorrow night, admitted to being "surprised" by the decision and he rubbished reports suggesting he had asked to be demoted.

Martin Johnson recalled Goode to the England side to face Italy, while Leicester's Toby Flood is expected to have recovered from a calf problem in time for the Wales fixture a week on Saturday.

But Cipriani has warned them both that he is determined to force his way back into the team.

"If I play well on Friday night then hopefully I would like to be back in the 10 jersey the next week. My destiny is in my own hands," said Cipriani.

"I still believe my destiny is to wear the England number 10 shirt. I'm showing the touches that I've got, it's just about getting the consistency.

"I was surprised (to be dropped) and obviously I would prefer to be in the first team, just like any player would.

"Andy has been playing well in France and is a very experienced player. I played against him when he was at Leicester and it was always difficult to stop him.

"Good luck to him and I hope the guys do awesome on Saturday. It's the first game of five and hopefully I will get a chance in the latter chance of the Six Nations."

Cipriani feels he is still not back to his best, 11 matches into his comeback from the gruesome dislocated fracture of the ankle he suffered in May.

He made a remarkable return to fitness in order to feature in England's autumn internationals but struggled in the defeats to Australia and South Africa before being benched for the New Zealand game.

"I had a whole season when I was playing consistently well. My injury was a blip - but it's time to move on and make sure I improve and get back to where I was," said Cipriani.

"Johnno said the game time with the Saxons would be good for me. I'm still in the process of getting back from my injury.

"Like Shaun Edwards said, it will take 12 to 15 games to get back like it took him when he had a serious injury. I'm at 11 now."

Johnson will be watching Cipriani's game-management closely against Ireland A this Friday.

How concerned is he that Johnson has turned to Goode, a more strategically-minded fly-half, to get England out of a hole?

England head into the tournament on the back of five defeats from six Tests and ranked sixth in the world.

Cipriani said: "It's the coach's decision.

"Rugby now is a sport in which you can't really hide. As a 10 you need to make sure you are at the forefront and bossing the situation. That's something I'm learning and doing.

"There's every aspect of my game I want to improve, to get there and really hold down the 10 shirt."