Cipriani snubbed by England again

By Mitch Phillips,Reuters
Friday 10 January 2014 04:13

Danny Cipriani was again left out in the cold by England today when he was omitted from the squad for June's two-test series against Argentina.

The 21-year-old Wasps flyhalf was instead included in the second-string Saxons squad for the Churchill Cup in the United States.

England coach Martin Johnson named Andy Goode and uncapped duo Sam Vesty of Leicester and Newcastle's Tom May as his flyhalves.

There are four other uncapped players - David Wilson of Newcastle, Jordan Turner-Hall and Chris Robshaw of Harlequins and Gloucester's Nick Wood - in the squad.

There was also a surprise recall for 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, who retired from the game because of a neck injury but then repaid his insurance pay-off to launch a comeback at French club Brive.

The 30-year-old won the last of his 47 caps in 2007.

Fellow 2003 World Cup winner Ben Kay, last capped in 2008, is also recalled.

Toby Flood, England's first-choice flyhalf in the Six Nations, was unavailable through injury, while Johnny Wilkinson, who on Monday confirmed his move from Newcastle to French club Toulon, has not played for months after injuring his knee.

Cipriani seemed to be England's long-term successor to Wilkinson when he made a sparkling debut against Ireland in the 2008 Six Nations but then suffered a broken ankle and was out for five months.

He featured in England's November internationals but has struggled to regain his form amid media speculation that his high-profile lifestyle was to blame.

"I will do my very best for the Saxons and am looking forward to joining up with them, but I can't pretend that I am not massively disappointed," Cipriani told the Sunday Times.

"I am totally dedicated to wearing the England shirt and to go out and do whatever they want me to do. I am working hard, I still love training ... people who know me know my priorities are correct."

Johnson was without eight players on Lions duty and could lose a ninth if flanker Tom Croft is called up as a replacement for Alan Quinlan.

"This is a very strong squad full of a mixture of experience and young talent," Johnson said in a statement.

"I'm sure that any of the uncapped players will take the step up from the Saxons to the senior test arena if they are given the opportunity."

An England XV will play the Barbarians in a non-cap game at Twickenham on May 30 before facing Argentina at Old Trafford, Manchester on June 6. They then fly to Argentina for a return against the Pumas in Salta on June 13.

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