Danny Cipriani still fighting for Rugby World Cup place
Sale Sharks outside-half hopes to work his way back into England contention for next year's showpiece
Sale Sharks outside-half Danny Cipriani is targeting a return to the England squad after being dropped for last month’s QBE Internationals.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster went with Saracens’ Owen Farrell, Bath Rugby’s George Ford, and Northampton Saints’ Stephen Myler as his three outside-half options for the four-match series.
With Leicester Tigers’ Freddie Burns also in the mix, Cipriani has a slim chance of muscling his way into contention ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, which begins in September, but his is not giving up hope of another recall.
“Any English player who is not in the squad is going to say they can offer something for England,” Cipriani said.
“There are areas of my game that I want to keep improving so I can be that complete player for them.
“I am always going to keep working on my strengths and keep trying to highlight those because they will be my point of difference.”
I don’t play rugby to make up the numbers, I want to be in the play-off games.
After a return to the international set-up on England’s summer tour to New Zealand, the 27-year-old has been in impressive form in the Aviva Premiership with his efforts inspiring his club to three successive wins and a subsequent elevation to sixth in the table after nine rounds.
Despite his lack of international activity, which has seen the former Wasps back win just nine caps, Cipriani continues to receive advice and guidance from the England coaching staff as he aims to improve his game.
“They are very good at communicating with their players and telling them what they need to improve on,” he added.
“You always kind of feel involved and are making sure you can improve in those areas where as in past regimes that might not have been the case.
“To hear the pointers they want me to work on, over the last four weeks I have been trying to do that.
“I will continue to do so moving into the rest of the season to make sure I can keep ticking the right boxes to put my hand up to represent England.”
As well as plotting his way back into the England fold for next year’s rugby showpiece, Cipriani also has the issue of his club future to consider with his contract up at the end of the season.
Still an ambitious player, Cipriani is keen to be in the play-off mix at the end of the season, but insists his focus is on his rugby rather than a new deal.
“There’s no rush for me to do anything,” he said. “You saw last year with Freddie Burns, it was difficult and mentally you might get taken off it.
“So my main focus is the rugby right now and what will be will unfold later in the year.
“I’m taking it one step at a time but, ultimately, I want to be involved in play-off rugby. That’s my main focus and I want to do that up until my early 30s.
“I don’t play rugby to make up the numbers, I want to be in the play-off games.
“I’m not eager to get a move, I just want to make sure the team shows the right ambition.”
With his England rivals already occupying the 10 jerseys at three of last season’s Premiership semi-finalists, there are few clubs that could enhance his chances of a return to the Red Rose or guarantee a chance of play-off rugby in May.
But his services are still desired in Salford with the Sharks keen to bring in two or three big names in the summer.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond admits that he has already made moves to keep Cipriani in the north west and it will be sorted out in due course.
“A new deal with Danny is definitely possible,” Diamond said.
“We’ve already had a chat and we’ll be taking the chat further.
“We’ll sit down together, have a pint, and when the time is right he’ll either agree to a new deal or he won’t.”