Danny Cipriani deserves England chance, says Austin Healey

Former England star Austin Healey wants to see Stuart Lancaster give Danny Cipriani another chance to impress for Red Rose

By Gareth Llewellyn
Sale Sharks No10 Danny Cipriani

Sale Sharks outside-half Danny Cipriani should be given a chance to extend his international career, according to Austin Healey.

The former England international utility back turned rugby pundit believes Cipriani’s upturn in form with the Salford-based club “now warrants serious consideration for further honours”.

The 26-year-old picked up the league’s player of the month award for March.

“The fortunes and abilities of Danny Cipriani and Sale Sharks seem to have run in tandem over the past 18 months and the comparisons are no coincidence,” said Healey.

“Sale have transformed from a northern, talented, gritty yet average side to a stable top four contender who are very difficult to beat. Danny has had a large part to play in this transformation.

“He has successfully transformed his game from a reckless talent to an influential and controlling No 10.”

Healey has been one of Cipriani’s biggest critics as the former London Wasps star’s career went off the rails, which saw him make more headlines off the field than on it.

Having made his England debut in March 2008, he made just six further appearances that year in the famous white jersey and has not featured since.

Cipriani agreed a deal in 2010 to move to Australia with the Melbourne Rebels and spent time training with a number of football clubs in preparation, with the BT Sport pundit going as far as to say the London-born back would “hate himself” if he wasted his rugby talent.

But the rise of Sharks has forced the outspoken pundit to throw his voice behind a potential recall for Cipriani, despite England enjoying an embarrassment of riches in young talented outside-halves with Owen Farrell, Stephen Myler, George Ford and Freddie Burns all in Stuart Lancaster’s plans.

“Danny has always had a maverick inside waiting to break out at any stage which he still has, but this year and in particular over the last few months he has led Sale to the threshold of the top four,” Healey added.

“A miraculous story not only for Sale Sharks, but also for Danny.

“He has shown a territorial knowledge and has kept the Sale Sharks pack close to his early phases enabling him to add width when it is on. Essentially he is playing what he sees very well.

“A maverick playing within a structured game plan is very dangerous and that is exactly why Danny deserves this month’s Aviva Premiership Player of the Month award.”

Cipriani beat his Sharks skipper Dan Braid, who was shortlisted for the second successive month, Leicester Tigers second row Ed Slater and Worcester Warriors full-back Chris Pennell the player of the month award.

Aviva Premiership Players of the Month 2013-14:

September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)

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