The view of Alan Quinlan, one of England’s fiercest opponents over the last two decades, is that even without Danny Cipriani England can win the World Cup. This is entirely true, and lost on those guilty of sensationalist reactions to the news of Cipriani’s omission from the England squad traveling to Treviso.
Cipriani did not feature in the Bristol training camp either, instead working on his strength and conditioning separately. However, whilst Anthony Watson and Sam Underhill also participated in “specialised strength and conditioning work,” they will both travel to Italy with the rest of the squad for a 12-day training camp, while Cipriani has been left behind.
Regardless of this controversial move, Alan Quinlan believes England are a “might” and a “real threat,” with the capacity to go all the way in Japan. This is surely undeniable.
Quinlan name-checked the talismanic Owen Farrell, who he says, “finished the season being the best flyhalf in the world,” in a recent interview on Irish radio show Off The Ball, along with Tom Curry, “what an incredible number seven he is,” as key players.
He also noted that England possess, “talented outside backs who can really hurt teams.”
Strikingly, Quinlan’s assessment was devoid of the hysteria of many in England regarding Danny Cipriani. It is time to recognise that Jones will not select him ahead of Farrell and Ford, his preferred out halves, and has other playmakers in the squad, such as Francis, Daly and Slade who can also play 10.
The inclusion of Piers Francis has caused consternation amongst many, and there is a good case to be made that Cipriani, Goode and Lozowski have all proved themselves to be superior players.
However, Jones has clearly earmarked Farrell to be his starting fly half, with Tuilagi and Slade the best-balanced centre partnership. Cipriani would offer creativity from the bench, but if Farrell is to be captain, and Ford the second choice, what is the point in taking players with the capacity to disrupt the squad?
Eddie Jones is obviously an obstinate, egotistical man, but he has made his decision and England fans must keep things in perspective. Without injury to Farrell, Cipriani would not have featured in the World Cup whether he was in the squad or not. If Farrell gets injured, he will in all likelihood be called up anyway.
The decision to exclude him then, is, as long as Eddie Jones is England coach, irrelevant to the team’s chances.
Jones himself has not directly addressed the matter, although he has stated, “selection is absolutely challenging, we have left some good players doing work at their clubs and they must be ready if called up.”
If England are to win the World Cup, it will be a result of an intense physicality in the form of the Vunipola’s and Tuilagi, the determined accuracy of Owen Farrell and the pace of the back three. That is the Jones blueprint, one that Cipriani does not fit into.
Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 10 caps), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 10 caps), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps), Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps), Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps), George Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps), Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 58 caps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 71 caps), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, uncapped), Joe Marler (Harlequins, 59 caps), Brad Shields (Wasps, 8 caps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps), Jack Singleton (Saracens, uncapped), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 9 caps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 17 caps), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons / Sale Sharks, 13 caps)
Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins, 72 caps), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 4 caps), Elliot Daly (Saracens, 30 caps), Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps), George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 55 caps), Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 4 caps), Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 40 caps), Joe Marchant (Harlequins, uncapped), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps), Ben Spencer (Saracens, 3 caps), Ben Te’o (unattached, 18 caps), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 32 caps), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 33 caps), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps)
Written by Joe Ronan