The 26-year-old outside-half has grasped the opportunity to return to international rugby after a difficult six years, but at the start of the season he would have expected to be on holiday this month rather than back in England contention.
I’ve learnt an awful lot from the coaches and I played with a confidence against the Crusaders that I can learn from
A composed performance against a weakened Crusaders side—after a brief cameo in the first Test against the All Blacks in Dunedin—proved that he can control a game for England and can be a reliable option for England now he has found focus on his game.
“The short-term goal of everyone in that [mid-week] squad is to try to get into the Saturday team, but everyone in the squad is going to come away from this tour knowing that they’ve learnt a lot and improved as a player—I certainly feel like I have,” Cipriani said after England’s 38-7 win in Christchurch.
“I’ve learnt an awful lot from the coaches and I played with a confidence against the Crusaders that I can learn from.
“The confidence is what the coaches are instilling in us and that’s put me in good stead for next season and to have a big pre-season.”
With England boasting four outside-halves from the Aviva Premiership’s top four clubs, Cipriani’s elevation from no-hoper to the fringes has been aided by injuries to Bath’s George Ford and the unavailability of first-choice 10 Owen Farrell.
And he could win his ninth cap on Saturday if he again provides cover for Leicester’s Freddie Burns, who starts after Farrell was ruled out with a knee injury.
After a successful reintegration into the England fold, Cipriani believes that they are developing something to be proud of under the direction of head coach Stuart Lancaster.
“England are developing something great, just with the DNA and culture that’s been provided,” he added.
“You can see from the performances in the first and second Test that England are going in the right direction and everyone can be proud of what’s going on so far.”
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