Danny Cipriani’s attempt to put himself at the heart of England’s challenge for a second global title next month is expected to end on Thursday when he leaves camp as one of eight players cut from the red rose’s final World Cup squad.
The chances of one of the most gifted attacking players of his generation ever performing on the grandest stage are now close to zero.
The Londoner was too new to the professional game to press for a place at the 2007 World Cup and missed the last tournament in New Zealand after falling out with the England management and accepting an offer to play Super Rugby in Australia with the Melbourne Rebels.
When the Webb Ellis Trophy is next up for grabs, in Japan in four years’ time, he will be 31 and almost certainly adrift of a younger group of No 10s, led by George Ford, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade.
Cipriani took to social media on Wednesday to thank his supporters for standing by him through thick and thin. “We all go through our journey in life and learn lessons,” he said philosophically.
Ford, the 22-year-old Bath playmaker, and Farrell, the Saracens midfielder who turns 24 in late September, have put the squeeze on Cipriani in his favoured position.
The Sale player’s chances of making the cut as a full-back died a death when another Saracens man, Alex Goode, performed outstandingly well in the first of the warm-up games against France a dozen days ago and Mike Brown of Harlequins made a successful international comeback in Paris last weekend following a long concussion lay-off.
Slade was being widely tipped for inclusion after a change of tack by the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, and the rest of the England management. As recently as last week, Lancaster had not been completely swayed by the Exeter youngster’s brilliant Test debut against the French at Twickenham, but the poverty of the performance on Saturday in Paris put renewed pressure on the Northampton centre Luther Burrell.
Up front, the Saracens lock George Kruis was thought to be marginally ahead of the heavier but less mobile Dave Attwood of Bath in the race for the single vacancy in the engine room.
Nick Easter’s determined effort to land a World Cup place for the third successive tournament depended on a final assessment of Ben Morgan’s fitness. The Gloucester No 8 is only just back on his feet after recovering from a badly broken leg and looked miles off the pace in his comeback game at Twickenham.Reuse content