Six Nations 2015: Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter named in England squad
Head coach Stuart Lancaster admits he is still considering his options after naming two England squads
Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter have been handed chances to revive their international careers after being named in England’s Six Nations training squad.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named a 34-man squad with few surprises for the tournament, which gets underway as the Red Rose take on Wales in Cardiff on Friday 6 February.
We will use the four-day training camp and the Saxons game to narrow down selection as we lead into the opening game against Wales.
Cipriani last played for England on the 2014 summer tour of New Zealand, while Easter has not played in the Lancaster era, with his last appearance also coming in New Zealand in the coming 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.
Also included in the squad, set to be captained again by Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw, are British and Irish Lions quintet Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola, who were all absent through injury for the QBE Internationals in November.
“Looking at both squads, it is obvious that there is a lot of depth and competition in every position, which is what we want,” Lancaster said.
“Many players are putting their hand up in the Aviva Premiership and Europe and they have a chance to impress in training as we build towards the games against Wales and the Wolfhounds.
“It’s great to welcome back some of those players unavailable for the QBE Internationals in the autumn.
“They offer us a lot of quality and experience. So too Nick Easter, who has played well for Harlequins.
“Given the injury to Ben Morgan, he and Tom Waldrom in the Saxons will provide us with specialist No 8 options alongside Billy Vunipola. That’s something we feel we need going into the tournament.”
Thanx for the messages of support! Means a lot. Grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the training squad! Hard work now begins
— DannyCipriani (@DannyCipriani87) January 21, 2015
Cipriani, rewarded for his continued fine form for Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership, is one of four outside-halves named by Lancaster and will vie for selection with Bath’s George Ford, Saracens talisman Owen Farrell and Northampton’s Stephen Myler.
It’s a great chance for me to prove myself and hopefully get a chance to represent my country again.
Easter, however, has better prospects of seeing game time as he competes with Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola while the loss of Gloucester’s Ben Morgan, who was England’s player of the series in November, to a broken leg is a huge blow for Lancaster.
But the Harlequins number eight has been in fine form for his club, while Exeter Chiefs number eight Thomas Waldrom, who is the Premiership’s top try-scorer so far this season, could challenge after he was included in the England Saxons squad to face Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork on 30 January.
“We have plenty of players to consider and with some players still being assessed from last weekend after suffering knocks we have kept our options open,” Lancaster added.
“It’s a big European weekend ahead and there may be further changes once we assess the fitness of the players after round six and we will provide an update on Monday.
“We will use the four-day training camp and the Saxons game to narrow down selection as we lead into the opening game against Wales.
“We will be without Joe Launchbury and Ben [Morgan] and it was a real shame to see Ben Foden pick up his injury up last weekend.
“We will continue to work with Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers with Courtney and Manu [Tuilagi] to see where they are as the Six Nations progresses.”
England Six Nations squad:
Forwards: Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Backs: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Danny Care (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).