Cipriani sets sights on 2015 World Cup spot

 

Danny Cipriani is determined to leave England with no option but to select him at fly-half for the 2015 World Cup.

Cipriani will return to Twickenham for the first time since winning the last of his seven caps in November 2008 when the Barbarians face Australia on Saturday.

Watching the recent World Cup unfold in New Zealand has heightened Cipriani's determination to re-establish himself in the national set-up as soon as possible.

Aiding his cause is the regime change at Twickenham after Martin Johnson, who had cast him into the international wilderness, stepped down as manager last week.

Cipriani is adamant he sees no personal gain in Johnson's departure, instead declaring it will be his ability to address his own shortcomings that will usher him back into the Test arena.

"I have a long-term goal to be in the squad and become first choice 10 for 2015," said Cipriani, who must be released for international duty by Melbourne Rebels if picked by England.

"Watching England makes me keen to play for them every time. It's always my dream and my goal.

"I truly believe I'm in a place where I can do that if I focus on my game.

"In the short term I want to play well this season, hopefully to be that 'exceptional' case whereby England will pick someone playing overseas.

"For the last 12 months, watching England play while not being involved felt as though it was passing me by. Some people are going to say pick me, while others will say don't because of x, y and z. I have to look at x, y and z and front up in those areas.

"I just want to make sure I don't give anyone the excuse not to pick me."

When asked if he felt Johnson's presence had blocked his path to an England return, Cipriani replied: "No, I never thought like that.

"Obviously it was difficult with me being in Australia and I probably gave the coaches enough ifs, buts and maybes not to pick me.

"That's why I didn't get selected. I can't really look at anyone but myself.

"That's what I've realised and I've matured in that way, knowing that I must improve on certain areas of my game to get selected."

Throughout his brief yet eventful career disciplinary problems and accusations of a poor attitude have pursued Cipriani, who is contracted to the Rebels for one more season.

Last season he was stood down by his Rebels team-mates for breaking a curfew.

But he insists it has always been his failings as a player - chief among them his defence - rather than perceived off-field issues that have resulted in his omission.

"Every team I've played for, I've always got on with the coach and the system," he said.

"I loved my time at Wasps and with England. It was purely for rugby reasons that I wasn't selected.

"Of course it's frustrating what people say and write about me. It's obvious in rugby there's no place for that type of thing.

"It would have been stamped out years ago if that was the case.

"I was very happy with the playing side, but all that was being reported back here was all the off-field stuff."

Cipriani has yet to make a decision on his future once his contract with the Rebels ends.

He also revealed that former England coach Brian Ashton and Shaun Edwards, his mentor at Wasps, are the only people he has remained in contact with since heading to Australia.

PA

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