Thorn warning for Cipriani

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The Independent Online

New Zealand lock Brad Thorn has warned Danny Cipriani his celebrity lifestyle may thwart his ambition of becoming the next Dan Carter.

Cipriani's place in the team is under threat amid calls for England manager Martin Johnson to punish his erratic form by handing the fly-half duties to Toby Flood.

Cross code star Thorn, who will start for the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday, is aware of the 21-year-old's fame and sympathises with the pressure it creates.

Cipriani's aim is to overtake Carter by becoming the world's best 10 but when asked if his profile would be detrimental to his development, Thorn stressed the need for careful guidance.

"Danny has got quite a presence off the paddock and maybe that's why he gets so much attention. Jonny Wilkinson got the same sort of attention," he said.

"It's a lot for him to take - it's not natural for a 21-year-old kid to get that sort of attention.

"Hopefully he's got good people around him to keep his feet on the ground and maintain his focus.

"I've talked to athletes for years about what happens when you come out of high school.

"How do you prepare for big salaries, prepare to get the pats on the back, cars and that sort of stuff? It's not easy and you need good, grounded people around you.

"Strong role models are also important - senior players, coaches and parents. It's a tough one and I sympathise for Danny."

Thorn has urged England to stand by their wayward fly-half, claiming he will emerge a stronger player because of the adversity he has faced this autumn.

"I'm sure he's a fine young gentleman and this is probably a character building time for him," he said.

"That can be turned around this Saturday and I'm sure he'll be stronger for it in the years to come.

"Danny is a young guy who's talented. He's getting a shot at the moment and I've heard that Jonny Wilkinson thinks highly of him.

"He's very young so he needs some good time in the saddle and a bit of persistence. I'm sure he'll continue to develop."

Thorn hopes Johnson will be graced with the same patience that he wants to see given to Cipriani.

It has been a harrowing introduction to management for England's World Cup winning captain, who watched in despair as his side slumped to a record 42-6 defeat by South Africa on Saturday.

The rout followed their mauling by Australia and with the All Blacks visiting Twickenham on Saturday, it may get worse before it gets better.

But Thorn, a 33-year-old veteran of 23 caps who is enjoying his second stint in union, insists Johnson and his players must be given time to flourish.

"You can see where Martin Johnson is at. He's starting at the base again and it will take time for him to develop things," he said.

"Hopefully people will be patient with Martin and allow England to grow as a team.

"If Martin thinks he's got the right calibre of player then the thing for him to do is stick by those players.

"It doesn't help chopping and changing, it's just a case of whether the people above him will be patient enough.

"But if they get a good result this Saturday things will be so much better."