Aviva Premiership: Danny Cipriani & more – three players to watch
Aviva Premiership: Sam Rogers takes a look at three players to watch in round three this weekend
Danny Cipriani (Sale v London Welsh)
Danny Cipriani was in inspired form for his side last week, scoring a try and setting up two more only for the Sharks to fall at the final hurdle and suffer a second straight defeat to open their league campaign. They host newly promoted London Welsh on Saturday and Cipriani and his team-mates will be keen to make sure the visitors don’t bag a first win of their return to the top flight in Salford. Welsh have struggled in the first two outings, getting hammered 52-0 at home to Exeter Chiefs before conceding 53 points against Bath at the Rec, although they managed 26 of their own. The important factor the for the former Melbourne Rebel will be in a world cup season, Cipriani will want to make sure England head coach Stuart Lancaster can’t ignore him with a string of eye-catching performances. What sets him apart is his combination of attack and defence and his dynamism on the front foot, interspersed with his vision and anticipation both with and without ball in hand. If he plays like he did against Gloucester for sustained periods this season, it will be hard to see him missing out on a home world cup next September.
Mike Brown (Quins v Wasps)
It’s fair to say Harlequins have had better nights at the Stoop, and their 39-0 drubbing by Saracens will be one they will soon rather forget. For England’s Mike Brown it must be particularly important to move on quickly after his public slating of Saracens, calling out the artificial pitch they use as ‘just to annoy everyone’ as well as calling them a side with ‘all the cash’ before remarking on the Maori inspired victory song, describing it as ‘that silly song they sing’ and that it ‘just winds everyone up’. His rather regrettable comments only served to inspire the Saracens players and they were unrelenting in their punishment of Quins. They must show their resolve when they play host to another London rival in Wasps who put in a quite incredible performance to stun defending champions Northampton Saints and will be looking to build on the momentum they picked up at Adam’s Park. Brown was obdurate in defence against Sarries and the scoreline could have been a lot worse had it not been for the full-back but he will need to utilise his front-foot talents to help his side get a result this weekend. Wasps were superb in defence against Northampton and will look to do the same at the Stoop so Brown will need to be at his line-breaking best while remaining solid under the high ball. He will also need to keep strong in defence – especially given the expected return of Christian Wade to the Wasps line-up.
Shane Geraghty (London Irish v Saracens)
After a season to forget last year, the Exiles are looking a much more assured side this time round. A narrow defeat to Quins in the opening weekend was followed up by an even tighter victory over Newcastle last time out, but they face their biggest test so far when they welcome the rampant Saracens to the Madejski stadium. Former England back Shane Geraghty has lead from the front for Irish and will be key if they are to get anything out of this match. Whether pulling the strings at fly-half, or accompanying the exciting Fergus Mulchrone in the midfield, Geraghty will have to provide an accurate kicking option off the tee as well as out of hand in order to alleviate the obvious pressure which will be applied by the likes of Charlie Hodgson, David Strettle and Owen Farrell.
Aviva Premiership Round Three fixtures in full:
Friday – Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs
Saturday – Sale Sharks v London Welsh
Harlequins v Wasps
London Irish v Saracens
Bath v Leicester
Sunday – Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints