Rugby World Cup 2015: Danny Cipriani facing exit from England squad despite the growing support

Stuart Lancaster will unveil his 31-man World Cup squad on Thursday

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The Independent Online

It is difficult to know what more Danny Cipriani can say in private conversation between now and Wednesday night, having made the clearest of statements through his rugby in the public arena of Stade de France at the weekend, but he had better think of something fast.

Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, will unveil his 31-man World Cup squad on Thursday lunchtime and only the most convincing of arguments will force him into a late change of heart regarding the celebrity playmaker from Sale.

Together with his fellow “on the brink” players, the Bath lock Dave Attwood and the Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter, the occasionally troublesome but apparently reformed Cipriani shone off the bench in Paris, not that it took much to illuminate one of England’s darker recent performances against Les Bleus.

There is now a growing clamour of support for the man, but there seems little chance of him making the cut unless Lancaster decides to use the more aggressive of his two front-line No 10s, Owen Farrell, as an option at inside centre. This would mean a serious rethink in the midfield department, with Luther Burrell or Sam Burgess biting the dust.

Those romantics who believe both Cipriani and the eye-catching young Exeter player Henry Slade, who performed so brilliantly in the victory over France at Twickenham, should be included in an effort to give England an attacking dimension worthy of the name are doomed to disappointment.

The likelihood remains that both will miss out, although it would be unlike Lancaster not to consider at least some of the hard evidence presented to him over the last 10 days.

Meanwhile, the Scotland coach Vern Cotter still has 40 players in the selection mix following Monday’s seven-man cull.

Dougie Fife, the Edinburgh wing who was a starting back in the Six Nations as recently as last March, was the highest-profile of the unfortunate septet, but the difficult decisions will not be made until after this weekend’s warm-up with Italy at Murrayfield.

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